There's a point in the song "Shared Islands" where Mary Pearson, one half of the ridiculously great new Brooklyn-based duo High Places, repeats "It's okay, it's all right" as her voice slowly fades away, getting washed out underneath layers upon layers of reverb. When she sings these words it is hard to take them as anything other than pure truth, because in the hands of High Places, sincerity—along with wide-eyed wonderment, humility, and simple joy—has rarely sounded so good.
As clichéd as it is to say, the duo (rounded out by multi-instrumentalist and everything-man Rob Barber) pretty much defy classification, although it becomes apparent real quick that they believe music is best when it is heavy on the repetition—when every instrument is filtered and manipulated to the point of unfamiliarity—and when it sounds like the entire record was recorded deep under the sea. Between the nonstop barrage of percussion, stacks of muddled electronics, found sounds, rhythmic pulsations, tribal drums, and who knows what else, the band comes out sounding like a mix of David Byrne and Brian Eno's My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, Panda Bear's Person Pitch, and a four-tracked, indie-pop version of M.I.A.'s Kala filtered through wet sandpaper and sugar.
As much credit as is due to Barber's incredible amalgamation of sounds, the same amount of respect is due Pearson's vocals, which are naval gazing, twee, and flat as all hell, yet somehow still remain as charming as a four-year-old belting out "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." They add a nice childlike (and human) element to an otherwise atmospheric and otherworldly sound, and the simple songs about deserts, sleeping, outer space, and various animals all counterbalance the precisely muddled music perfectly.
Much like a warm sleeping bag underneath the stars on a crisp night, the music is cozy, welcoming, and easy to wrap up in. And on both of their two releases this year—the excellent singles compilation 03/07-09/07 and the even better brand new self-titled LP—High Places have proven themselves more than capable of a certain type of greatness, one that is sure to sway electronic freaks, twee-poppers, and indie rock snobs in equal measure.