Highlives – ‘Through Vacant Eyes’ EP
Fellow MF writer, Matt, has posted several posts of Bristolian bands, emphasising on their raw, hungry and smash-mouth determination to play great music. So, the other day I took my first trip to Bristol to discover exactly what the music scene was like.
I loved it.
I used to think Bristol was only good for mind-blowing graffiti – but the bands, venues and fans I saw were sublime. The attitude to unsigned and upcoming music talent in the city is something the rest of the country should aspire to – it’s almost a loving and cut-throat feel… if that makes sense?
This brings me to the five-piece band in question. Bristol/London based Highlives are the latest band to be catching the attention around the city, recently playing on the same stage as Musically Fresh favourites, Tuskens.
Pop-Punk is by no means an easy genre to accomplish well. The fear of being over-played or attaining the “wrong” fan base, often leads to bands losing the sound that made them so unique in their early days. Perhaps they lose the fight that made them so desperate to succeed?
Now, Through Vacant Eyes is my introduction to Highlives, but I’m hearing that fight. That drive to get their music out there and heard. And I’m hearing some damn good Pop-Punk.
But enough pithy comments, let’s get down to the album…
‘Apathy Was So Pointless Anyway’ – First up, and this opening track is also the latest single release from the band. The opening riff is catchy, and reminiscent of Blink-182’s ‘Feeling This’, but then we’re deterred into these, BOW-DOW-DOW power chords and rapid-fire drumming.
These heavyweight punches from the instrumentals are balanced out nicely with vocalist, Liam Edward’s softer, tonal singing. In fact, the combination of the lead and backing vocals was evocative of Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba and Dan Andriano – come to think of it, throw in this track’s instrumentals, and the chemistry of the band takes me back to the first time I heard Trio’s, From Here To The Infirmary.
‘It’s motivation that you crave but you forget yourself, emptiness, society it drowns your health.’ The lyrics of this track are a slap round the face to anybody who has fallen into a slump in their lives. People who have settled and who have stopped saying ‘YES!’ to the opportunities life throws up; desperately crying out for somebody to help them out. Have we all not felt like this? The band capture the essence of today’s youth; the worry of full-time work and following the status-quo, and have achieved it with a sound which also strongly reminded me of many early Blink-182 tracks.
‘Through Vacant Eyes’ – This track has an incredible start-and-go quality to it, as the lead guitar frequently resets the listener for another verse rant. And it’s executed well. It drives up the listeners’ adrenaline, stalls them, and then throws them back into the fray.
And I guess that’s the essence of the track. About repeatedly fucking up, time and time again, then struggling to place yourself anywhere you used to feel comfortable. In fact, I credit whoever wrote the lyrics to the chorus, as, put simply, I think they’re badass.
On the band’s Facebook page, they list New Found Glory as one of their influences, and with this track, I can certainly hear that within their fast-paced, shout-it-all-out sound – think of NFG’s Sticks and Stones.
This is also a track where both guitars complement each other perfectly, and the closing minute provides an instrumental/solo that swerves the entire sound of the track and makes you feel like walking with purpose.
I only have two complaints about the album. Firstly, I found Liam Edwards vocals sometimes being drowned out by the heavy power chords and thunderous riffs. It was nothing a bit of fiddling around with the audio enhancements couldn’t solve, but considering the vocals are executed as well as any other Punk band, they shouldn’t hide them away.
Secondly, it’s fleeting length. I want so much more from these guys in terms of tracks. However, you can hear the well-thought out and high production quality of these tracks. They weren’t rushed. And I’d rather listen to two superb tracks over and over again, that seven or eight tracks that can’t cut the mustard. And listening to them over and over again is exactly what I’ll be doing.
In fact, I consider it a pleasure to have Highlives on my iTunes – and I’m struggling to even think about the reasoning behind anyone who says that these guys aren’t up to scratch. Anybody can enjoy these tracks.
If Through Vacant Eyes is anything to go by, look out for the day where these guys are headlining the gigs and festivals, because there is an incredible amount of promise in this band.
And for more information on how to get hold of the EP, check out their social media accounts here;