Highdivers – S/T EP


Highdivers is the latest project of John O’Brien, formerly of the melodramatic popsters Tuesday Weld. Although a shifting group of friends come in to provide a host of instruments on this release, this O’Brien’s project, and he sets the tone with his unique songwriting and slick vocals that seem to change to match the style of song. For the Highdivers do shift styles, clearly giving O’Brien a chance to feel out his many influences. Regardless, this still feels like a cohesive project, and perhaps that’s why this album is so good.
The five songs on this too-short EP run the gambit from quiet indie pop to indie rock and even a more Americana feel. They focus around the relatively simple yet strong songwriting and an excellent grasp of melody. It makes for a fun debut album.
The Highdivers do their best indie pop impression on “Rocketheart,” the first and more brilliant song on this EP. Relentlessly catchy and playful with a sense for what makes a good rock song tick, this track deserves to be heard, and it sets the tone for an excellent EP that tries but never quite lives up to its opening track.
That’s not to say the other songs are bad. “North Berkeley” uses strings for a chamber-pop feel that’s quite unusual, and “White Guys” is a playful Cracker-esque country-rock style romp. “Just the Same” has a more alt-country, Wilco style feel, finally quieter but putting more emphasis on the songwriting. There’s some nice dobro and piano intricate to the song. And “Eviction Suite No. 3” gets totally different with a hip-hop feel, complete with funky beat and mixing that actually incorporates real strings for a very fresh and unique sound. I like this a lot, although it’s the one song that seems out of place.
For a debut, Highdivers have crafted something tight and infectious. Clearly O’Brien has the knack for writing a good song, regardless of the style he chooses. I only wish we have a few more songs to enjoy. This project is definitely worth keeping an eye on.