Highly Suspect are a band I’d intended to see this year; I had tickets to their SWG3, Glasgow, show and all, but it was a logistical nightmare. And that’s an epic shame. But while we’re on the subject of far from dreamy, their latest album, ‘The Midnight Demon Club’, is a 12-track collection that delves into the darkest corners of the harshest, most taboo (but shouldn’t be) themes. Are you sitting comfortably?
The band — fronted by the ironically named Terrible Johnny, whose fiery vocals couldn’t be more supremely addictive — make tunes for people who can fess up to their shortcomings, admit their wrongdoings and look wholly introspectively on themselves. If you understand how you tick, whether you’re as flawed as they come or not, you’re bound to hear nuggets and nuances of lyrics that are spookily relatable.
This approach to their soberingly powerful songs kicks in right from the get-go on the opener, ‘The Sound’. Bellowed vocals, shredding chords with anthemic qualities and thumping drums are the three key building blocks of how Highly Suspect frame their output, which you’ll hear on this first piece, alongside ‘Caught On Fire’ and ‘Cool Kids’.
But then you get these slightly more biblical offerings, such as ‘Natural Born Killer’, which was the initial single from their pre-release, hype-raising campaign. It landed simultaneously with ‘Pink Lullabye’, a slightly creepy, haunting one that features towards the mid-section of the album and incorporates metal sensibilities. It’s riotous, loud and suitable for suckers of screamo.
It’s chased up by the pacy ‘New California’, which smacks of something The Neighbourhood might’ve come out with, so it almost bridges alternative/indie with skater rock, very palatably. ‘Ice Cold’ is another that’s a bit less ferocious, and its synths coat it with a candied pop veneer. If you don’t get up and bop around to it, give the volume a boost and try again.
The title track, ‘Midnight Demon Club’, is a through-the-motions rollercoaster of soft verses and suddenly blaring choruses that then descend into a tempo-altering break, around 1:30 in. It’s an interesting yet jarring aural dispersal that somehow manages to demonstrate the sharp ups and downs in emotions that go hand-in-hand with lyrics about inner torment.
Of course, Highly Suspect are no strangers to the calmer, less intense, diary-entry-esque numbers as well, but those aren’t the songs that fully win my ears here. ‘The Midnight Demon Club’ is a well-choreographed bobby-dazzler of reflective rock for emo veterans who enjoy a bit of all sorts, but it’s the brasher bits that stand out far more.
If you only download one track, let it be: ‘Natural Born Killer’