Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin have had a transformative couple of years. John Cardwell, one of its founding members, departed following the release of Fly By Wire, their last studio album. They’ve also had the fortune of Tom Hembree, another co-founder, returning to the fold to “stir things up in the best way possible.”
Recorded in former Death Cab For Cutie guitarist Chris Walla’s Hall of Justice studio, The High Country is not an all-out assault by any means, but they do sound like a fully recharged unit. Fans of the Missouri outfit will welcome this with open arms, and there’s just enough punch to attract new followers.
It’s the uptempo numbers that will stick in your head. These are the moments where the trio come closest to stirring things up, even the result is more chirpy than frenzied. Both its bookends do the job perfectly well – Line On You is an attention-grabber of an opener and Total Meltdown is a zippy closer. Elsewhere, Full Possession Of All Her Powers is a fantastic slice of jangly pop and Trevor Forever is raw and a little bit gnarly in places, but rousing all the same.
That’s balanced with songs that show an impressive amount of restraint. Goal Mind is a little subdued, though its rhythm section still gallops away with as much power as they’re allowed to unleash without going over-the-top. Then there’s Madeline, a lovely ballad that sounds a little washed out and out of focus, and is all the more charming for it.
The album is only 27 minutes long, so it’s not surprising that it tries to cram in as much as it can. The fact that plays around with tempo and mood so much in such a short space of time is admirable. On the downside, some tracks feel like they’ve been added to fill in the gaps in the running order, and are just not that compelling. What I Won and Song Will both thump along from Point A to Point B but without any discernible hooks.
The High Country shows many sides of Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. Most of those sides are easily palatable and enjoyable, with the odd mis-step here and there preventing it from being a must-buy. Still, with melodies this strong, it would take a hardened soul not to find something to their liking. Nearly a decade on from their arrival, they don’t appear to be tired or restless. It can’t be to easy to carry on following the departure of a key band member, but the way they’ve gone about their business makes you think that everything was as normal as it was before. If you can make it sound like nothing’s wrong, you’re probably doing something right.