I’ve seen a trend lately of cover bands breaking out and making their own albums, writing original songs, and I think there are some really talented bands among these people. Highly Suspect is one of those bands; who once were doing covers of Jimi Hendrix and Sublime are now nabbing Grammy nominations and taking the music industry by storm. The band released their second album, The Boy Who Died Wolf, on November 18th, only a year after releasing their debut album, and it seems like they don’t plan on slowing down. The lead singer, Johnny Stevens, has this bluesy, deep voice that mesmerizes you, and there are a few tracks on the album that will put you in a dreamlike state. “My Name Is Human” is a solid opening to the album, with a fuzzy guitar and distorted keyboard that give the song a saturated feeling. The final song, “Wolf”, mirrors it in some ways; starting with gentle guitar plucking, it gives a jolt and then falls back to that plucky rhythm. The song has a dreamy, foggy feeling to it that lulls you into a calm state of mind.
Themes like isolation, loss, and regret permeate throughout, with each song like a window into the singer’s soul. “For Billy” tackles the loss of a loved one and the hope to see them again, although instead of a woeful ballad it’s an upbeat rock tune. The band also draws influence from those that they have covered in the past, with the song “Serotonia” resembling a bluesy Jimi Hendrix track, but with lyrics that remind me of Sublime (maybe because the song has a surfy, California feel to it). “Chicago” is soulful and piano heavy, like something Elton John would write. There were two punk songs on the album I didn’t really care for, “Look Alive, Stay Alive” and “Viper Strike,” with the later being an in your face commentary on the bigotry and hate running rampant in society today.
The Boy Who Died Wolf has some good songs on it that measure up to its predecessor, though I think I like the first album slightly better. Regardless, Highly Suspect have a bright future ahead of them. I look forward to the band’s next endeavor.