I’m not going to sit here and pretend to know what the original vision of Life On Planet 9 was but after three albums, I’m hoping that I’m correct in saying that whatever that original vision was it’s been fully realized on their third full-length, Higher.
Bittersweet was an acoustic triumph for the duo of vocalist Pete Murray and guitarist Neil Godfrey with songs like “Line Stepper” and “Sweet Silence” showcasing their strengths without being plugged in while The Theory Of Everything really focused on honing song structure as “Carry On” and “Rainy Days” undoubtedly displayed.
Higher manages to combine the two exquisitely and elegantly and the fuzzed out sonic experimentation of opener “Wake Up” is definitive proof of that. From there, it gets better and better. “Rainy Days” is propelled by programmed beats and Murray’s serene falsetto while the title track could have easily appeared on the soundtrack to your favorite ’80’s movie.
Those heartfelt Murray screams are still fully intact, though, and Godfrey’s restrained maelstrom of picks, plucks, and strums are ever present but Higher is so much more thanks in part to its redirected focus on the electronic elements. “The Only Way out Is Through” is one such focus as it hearkens back to those crushing Ultraspank outros (Lookin’ at you, tail end of “Where” and “Better Luck Next Time”). Same goes for “Go”. Then “Gone” hits and a single sax solo (Serious “You Belong To The City”-style wailing and all) threatens to end all you thought you knew about the duo who penned songs like “Burnt”, “Early Morning Anger”, and “Jackass”. But if you pressed play at the start of this opus, you had to know you were in for something special, right?