High Places - High Places vs Mankind (vinyl)
"High Places vs. Mankind" is the second long-playing album from Mary Pearson and Rob Barber. The title accurately suggests the album will take a slightly altered course from the “goodness as growth reflected in nature” motif of the band’s eponymous debut (Thrill Jockey, September 2008). Instead, Mary and Rob are tackling the complex, gigantic subject of being human and what it’s like to interact with other human beings.
The album’s subject matter covers a wide range; from romantic relationships to overcoming addiction, aging, and finally death in the closing track “When It Comes.” A digital single released on Halloween entitled “I Was Born” (perhaps ironically addressing the subject of birth as a precursor to the album?) demonstrated Rob and Mary using more standard instrumentation than the two had employed in the past.
In "High Places vs. Mankind", guitars play an important role, and here the band has often kept them sounding like guitars. Mary’s vocals are less effected and more present. But many aspects of the High Places sound and aesthetic remain intact. One hears dance rhythms, stereo effects, accessible melodies, dub influence, and as always, a love of layering and of combining the unexpected into something cohesive and new.