Highly Suspect, ‘The Boy Who Died Wolf’ – Album Review
Highly Suspect arrived on the music scene in 2015 and promptly commanded radio with the singles “Lydia” and “Bloodfeather,” wowed critics with their debut disc Mister Asylum and received a pair of Grammy nominations right out of the gate. So what did they do for a follow-up? You don’t have to worry about a sophomore slump! If anything the trio only raised the bar with their new disc, The Boy Who Died Wolf.
The calendar may say 2016, but the band’s music has touchtones of a late ’90s post-grunge sound in parts and it works marvelously on this album. Opening with the recent single “My Name Is Human,” the track makes usage of fuzzed out guitars and distorted keyboards to set a plodding mood as singer Johnny Stevens expresses his feelings of isolation and a struggle with identity in a real builder of a track that is one of the album’s shining moments.
That’s followed with another self-reflecting track, “Look Alive, Stay Alive,” though this one is a more raucous, in-your-face commentary challenging the acceptance of the status quo. Taking things down a bit, Stevens and his sibling cohorts Ryan and Rich Meyer dig into more reflective territory with “Little One,” a more intimate track analyzing the “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve” of a past relationship.
In fact, relationships and the interactive roles we all play are a big part of the new album. “For Billy” tackles the loss of a loved one with the promise, “I’ll see you on the other side,” while the final two songs on the album — “Chicago” and “Wolf” — offer soul-baring moments reflecting on the past and dealing with the resignation of moving on.
Other highlights include “Serotonia,” a track issued earlier this year that comes off a bit stream of conscience as Stevens feels that a change of scenery will aid his goal of being a better person. “Postress” is one of the album’s more catchy tracks, with piano and guitars really driving the song, while the band does a stellar job of adapting the ’80s synthy pop hit “Send Me an Angel” by Real Life into a more haunting, soulful and moody track bringing more emphasis to the lyrical desperation.
The disc also includes “Viper Strike,” a no holds barred commentary on the current bigotry and self-entitlement going on in the world, while “FWYT” is a mostly instrumental track with a great beat and rhythmic vibe.
With 2016 coming to a close, look for Highly Suspect’s The Boy Who Died Wolf to make it in under the wire for a lot of year-end critics lists, with 2017 showing even further promise as fans embrace this latest work.