Release Date: April 8th, 2016
Label: Indica Records
In an era of singles, HIGHS (Toronto, ON) made Dazzle Camouflage a complete album.
The opener, “I Do, Do You?” is radio-friendly, but also a fitting introduction. Doug Haynes’ airy vocals echo over a dream-like background until the drums kick in. Complex layering, precise beats, and a wash of reverb define this track, and much of the album. It’s an otherworldly sound that stretches your expectations of pop music.
Dazzle Camouflage uses lots of reverb, creating a distant feeling that fits the stories. HIGHS’ lyrics don’t narrate in real time, but look down from above, trying to see where life’s small moments fit in the big picture. The first verse of “I Do, Do You?” recalls a scene in a friend’s house, then moves to inner reflection, and the chorus pulls it together—“It don’t take much to think about it/But I do, do you?” Most of the record sits in this inward, reflective mood.
While the songs are consistently catchy, the sound starts feeling repetitive about halfway through. It gets tough to find what makes each song unique. The layers usually blend well, but the detail can be distracting. The steady shaker in “Portugal” keeps the groove going, but makes it harder to sink into the guitar lines and piano chords playing off each other in the background.
But when you’re listening, keep going. “Easy” (track nine) is the album’s hidden gem. A lighter verse slams into a heavy, riff-driven chorus that instantly made me turn it up. Lyrically, a soft reverie (“Go on and tease me/You lay me down easy/You lay me down true”) breaks down into the chorus’s repeated lament (“My love, she haunts me”). The pulsing beat and rising guitar line speak for themselves: while love is haunting, it’s irresistible.
And while you’re there, “Acting Strange” (track ten) is an upbeat, danceable tune. Placing this song second-last shows commitment to the album’s story—it could get more attention further up, but fits better near the end, moving from inner reflection to real-time relationships.
Dazzle Camouflage deserves credit for being a thoughtful work of art. If you can keep up with all the layers, it’s a rewarding listen.