Higher | review

The roots of Canada's Harem Scarem stretch back to 1988, when Harry Hess (vocals) and Darren Smith left Blind Vengeace to team up with Pete Lesperance (guitars) and Mike Gionet to form the band. Their self-titled debut was released in 1991. Two years later and the critically and commercially accepted Mood Swings was released. Harem Scarem quickly proved they were a band which knew how to write catchy and diverse rock songs. A few more records (Voice of Reason, Karma Cleansing, Big Bang Theory, and Rubber) and an ill-fated off-shoot band called Rubber, kept Harem Scarem busy through the nineties.
In 2002, they made a triumphant return with Weight of the World--an album long-time Haerm Scarem fans appreciated. The core writing team of Hess and Lesperance were back in action. It took only a year for them to write and record a follow-up and here we have Higher.
I can't help but think how huge this album would've been had it been released fifteen years ago. Harem Scarem (rounded out by bassist Barry Donaghy and drummer Craighton Doane) have written a peppy rock album with catchy songs which never stray into fluff territory.

This has no filler, every song counts. "Reach"is probably the catchiest song they've ever written and Lesperance plays some edgy guitar. "Waited and"Torn Right Out" exhibit Lesperance's sensitive playing and Hess' super catchy choruses that are justright--not too sugar coated. "Give It to You" has eighties written all over it, "Higher" is a forgettableballad, but "Run and Hide" sets Higher back on course. Lesperance again breaks out the acoustic guitar on"Lucky Ones," but it's "Lies" which shows how easily Harem Scarem can switch into heavier, more experimental rock and still remain memorable. "Gone" and "Lost" close out Higher; the former a peppy acoustic number with a tremendous vocal performance from Hess.
Harry Hess is highly regarded, and one listen to Higher shows you what command he has with perfect choruses, which still allow his personality to shine.
Album Score: 7.5 out of 10

Review by Brett VanPut
Originally posted at Transcending the Mundane
 

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