As arts editor, I get stuff in the mail sometimes. It’s one of the perks of the job—mystery mail appears on my desk.
Before I get into this, you have to understand that I have really weird tastes in music. The kind of taste where I say to someone, “I listened to Tori Amos’s new album over the weekend,” and whomever I’m talking to answers, “Oh. Cool,” in a way that makes me absolutely sure they don’t know what I’m talking about. I don’t blame them—Tori Amos is a little obscure—but some days I want to walk around raging that no one has heard of or cares about the kind of niche market indie folk-rock I listen to.
First world problems, I know.
For the above reason, High Ends got lucky. I got an album that happens to be right up my musical alley, landing somewhere on the indie rock spectrum. The general tone of the album is undoubtedly alternative; a cross between Spirit of the West and Purity Ring, passing through Broken Social Scene on your left.
There’s one other thing you have to understand: I’m a die-hard lyricist. Even if I don’t like the music that much, I’ll listen to a song if the lyrics intrigue me. In the case of High Ends’ new album Super Class, the lyrics are, in fact, quite interesting. They are for the most part surrealist, but with a really enjoyable sense of humour.
There are some albums in this world that I only own because I’m a big fan of maybe two or three songs. Then there are other albums that are just good listening overall, with no standouts or major letdowns. Super Class leans towards the latter but, of course, I do pick favourites. The album has only 10 songs. Of these, two really stand out. I especially enjoyed “I’m Gonna Keep on Dancing”, which, though repetitive, has a great bouncy rhythm of the kind that causes me deep embarrassment on public transit early in the morning. And despite what I said before about being a die-hard lyricist, another favourite is “River Cruise”, an instrumental song that caught my attention.
Listen to “Cappuccino” for humour and “Ocean Song” if your tastes lean towards country music. The truth is that I lost interest about the time “Ocean Song” rolled around, and was starting to feel like I’d had too much of a decent-but-not-quite-spectacular thing. However, the penultimate song, “Feel/Sleep/Aliens”, grabbed me and drew me right back in. The track is weird and experimental. It takes risks none of the other songs do. Basically, what I want is an album filled with songs like this one that do things a little differently.
There are a lot of singer-songwriters out there. Jeffrey Innes, who writes and performs most of Super Class, has a lot going for him, especially if he continues to cater to those who want something a little different from today’s Top 40. But I think there is also an edge to him, or at least his music, that doesn’t get all the attention it deserves. Keep the humour but show me the edge, too. Better yet, walk the edge.