US Highball’s Think Again EP, from last year, had a timeless quality to it. It felt like a leftover demo from a long-forgotten K Records band, somewhat twee and dreamy and jangly. And at three tracks and ten minutes, it’s short, sweet, and – importantly – very replayable.
Great Record, the Glasgow duo’s debut LP, follows mostly in the same vein as Think Again. There are few curveballs in the established formula; instead, the band injects new sounds and influences into the music they cultivated on Think Again. Most notably would be the influence of ’60s pop and rock groups. This is particularly evident in the harmonies, which call to mind Simon & Garfunkel or, more frequently, The Beach Boys, who seem a fair touchstone for US Highball. “Pedro 2”, “Where’d the Century Go?,” and “My Frankenstein,” in particular, seem to borrow from the innovative pop of Pet Sounds, updating the sound too fit 2019. The best song on the album is all US Highball, though; the driving “Old Place” is a synth-soaked indie-pop jam meant to soundtrack a summer beach trip.
One of US Highball’s greatest strengths, as on Think Again, is brevity. More than half the songs on Great Record are shorter than two full minutes, and none of them even crack three. While the album’s laser focus on ’60s-inspired pop might grow tiring over fourteen tracks, by the time the formula starts to wear thin, the album’s already over. If it isn’t a truly great record, then US Highball is certainly getting there.