Single of the week: HighSchool – Sirens review

by Chris Hatch

Following October’s release of New York, Paris and London, HighSchool’s latest single seesaws between bright, jangly pop, and moody seriousness. Sirens is both sweet and sinister – the vocals of lead singer, Rory, are a mix of Julian Casablancas’ cooler-than-cool drawl, and Paul Banks’ brooding monotone. Musically, the track is reminiscent of New Order’s first couple of albums when Sumner, Hook, and Morris juggled the weighty, overhanging drama of Joy Division with a newfound lightness and pop sensibility.

For the most part, a backbone of drums and bass haul the track along – leaving just enough space for guitars and keys to interplay – and those guitars are drenched in chorus! So much so that at times they move beyond summery sweetness, and instead edge into an icy harshness – but it’s the final minute or so of the track that sees HighSchool loosen up. Metronomic precision is traded for a pulsing bassline and a flurry of hi-hat snicks and swirling synths in a coda that calls to mind sweaty nights on sticky indie disco dance floors.

HighSchool remain a rough gem – and that’s perhaps some of their charm. Whether they should ‘go bigger’ in terms of production, or keep things modest and lo-fi, is a conundrum that only they can answer. But, either way, their ability to write brooding, gothic pop is in no doubt.

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