Mild High Club


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Skiptracing arrives less than a year after Mild High Club's 2015 debut full-length Timeline, and while Alexander Brettin and his pals are still crafting a welcoming brand of mellow, sun-soaked psychedelic pop, they seem significantly more ambitious this time out. Timeline featured laid-back grooves that seemed simple but were far too detailed and considered to appear lazy, even if the music itself made an appropriate soundtrack for spending a sunny afternoon getting high. Skiptracing sports a much fuller sound and a wider scope, and takes more risks. A few songs on the debut had a bit of a Baroque flavor, and while traces of that continue into this album, particularly on "Homage," there's more of an easygoing lite funk sound to this one, with the Sunday morning groove "Tesselation" being a standout. There are more flourishes and changes to these songs' rhythms, and it's far more atmospheric, with widescreen keyboards washing over more delicate ones providing subtle melodies. The slow, kaleidoscopic sway of "Cary Me Back" feels like reflecting on one's troubles at a carnival -- life is difficult and you've made some bad decisions, but now is the time to forget about all that and try to enjoy yourself. On subsequent songs, Brettin ups the dosage a bit, shrouding his voice with blurry effects on many songs and turning the guitar distortion up during "Kokopelli." The album's back half includes a few experimental interludes -- "┬┐Whodunit?" begins with backwards static effects before being attacked by drums weightlessly bashing away, and "Ceiling Zero" is about half-a-minute of Beach Boys harmonies and woodwinds. "Chapel Perilous" throws Jiminy Cricket into the mix by quoting "When You Wish Upon a Star" over swirling keyboards and backwards funk guitar licks. Brettin tries a lot harder to sound weird on Skiptracing than he did on Timeline, and the result is a more vivid album.

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