Rooted in timeless pop sensibility The High Dials shade their sound with psychedelic, electronic, and folk rock influences. “On Again, Off Again”, the first track to be revealed from the upcoming album, In The AM Wilds is “about long-distance and/or casual romantic relationships,” says songwriter Trevor Anderson. “It was built with an old drum machine, a live performance and some phone software. Our favourite part was the vintage ‘Fun Machine’ keyboard which they have at Troublemakers Studio. Lots of 12-string guitar in the arrangement too!”
Set for release on February 3 their fifth full-length album, In The AM Wilds, is one that could easily have never seen the light of day. “We were anxious to do something new creatively,” explains Anderson. “We had been making music together for a while so there was talk of breaking up. In fact, we did lose some members. But in the end we came through all the questioning renewed and excited by change.”
Centred around the band’s founders, Anderson and guitarist Robbie MacArthur, and operating with a fluctuating line-up of players, The High Dials have spent the last while working on soundtracks for two Montreal indie films, which led to a lot of experimentation. But any long-term band can slip into a comfort zone of lazy habits. That’s where producer Marc Bell (We Are Wolves, The Fugees) came into things. “Meeting Marc was huge because he really helped us stay fearless in moving forward. He knew nothing about our history. We were able to incorporate more of the influences that had always been there lurking but never really come through.”
The resulting work is surprising yet logical for those familiar with the band. While the trademark jangling guitars, harmonies and melodic sensibilities remain, In The AM Wilds sees the band exploring post-punk sounds and groove-based pop with palpable excitement and freedom.
As expected from a High Dials album, there is also a concept at play. “The songs were written as I was working as a DJ and completely immersed in Montreal nightlife. That probably explains some of the groovier sounds and clubbing vibe, as well as the subject matter,” says Anderson. “But this is obviously not a party record. It’s about the visions and dreams that come to you in that state of mind, and that means everything from ecstasy to anxiety, yearnings of the highest and lowest form. The night appears as a wilderness, a world people get lost in for better or worse. In the dark things appear and your mind wanders… And sometimes it’s hard to find your way home.”
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