The High

Somewhere Soon

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To be sure, the High were always the also-rans of Madchester, as in thrall to the Byrds' ever-lovely guitar-chime pop as the Stone Roses but lacking that essential kick which made the other group the touchstone it was for many. "Box Set Go" was the key single and arguably the band's only immortal song, derivative but still lovely and benefiting from one of Martin Hannett's last production jobs before his untimely death. A perfect ringing, descending guitar melody got matched with some sprightly piano and a fine singalong lyric; add in just enough rock-out energy here and there to lend everything some bite, and the rest is a sparkling U.K. indie classic that lasts. Beyond that, pleasures on Somewhere Soon are fairly scattered but still there for the taking, like the brief, delicate "A Minor Turn," an acoustic semi-sequel to "So I Can See." The best moments are when the group's tendency for quietly unsettled melancholy creep forward, more in the music than in the lyrics but effective for all of that. "This Is My World" carries a subtle air of threat and attitude throughout, moody bass-led verses sliding into fiercer choruses, while the charging "Dreams of Dinesh" shows what the group can do when all fired up, guest percussion by Pandit Dinesh himself adding to the song's sharp attack. The staccato rhythm of "So I Can See," created by piano and drums overlaid with the more familiar flow of the band, is a good example of how the High can pull off low-key miracles, though they don't always develop them to truly impressive detail. For all that, most people will hold their copies of the Stone Roses' and the La's' debut albums as the true pinnacles of the time; still, Somewhere Soon has a certain something.

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