High Places: “Sophia” (Original Colors, Thrill Jockey 2011)
I never got a chance to give props to High Places’ last album, which earned a slot in my admittedly bloated and not very descriptive best of the year list. Cool, dubby and sublime… what a refreshing pop album from the Thrill Jockey label. I didn’t really know what to expect from this at all and just dove in headfirst out of curiosity. I really like their combination of dubby techno and synth pop, alternating between something akin to a more sleek Book of Love and the aquatic pulse of Thomas Fehlmann. Even at times I get an Ellen Allien vibe off some tracks, except for the notable vocals of Mary Pearson, who’s much more versatile as a singer. Maybe the drowsiness of her voice or the wetness of the arrangements make this a hard sell as a bonafide pop album, but I think it’s supremely accessible and shines on many levels.