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Music Review: The Higher – It’s Only Natural

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Seven years since the Las Vegas-based band formed, The Higher is back with It's Only Natural, out on Epitaph Records on June 23, 2009. After a few band member changes, The Higher is back with their most radio-friendly album to date, It's Only Natural.

"We wrote the best songs that The Higher has ever written on this record. No matter what kind of music you listen to, you're going to find at least two songs that are your favorite," founding member and lead singer Seth Trotter says. The best part of the album was definitely the vocals. Whenever I hear The Higher come on the radio or on iTunes, I can immediately sense who it is plainly due to his wide ranged voice that formulates their sound. "We have two songs the girls are going to love, two rock songs the guys who loved our old sound want, two R&B songs for those who liked our stuff like 'Insurance,' two slow jams that people have been begging us to do for a long time, and two straight-up pop songs. It's like Noah's Ark on this record, there's two of everything!" This idea could've been a massive success, but unlike their 2007 album, On Fire, there is nothing that stands out throughout.

The first track started off exactly how I wanted it to; their rock side that their early fans will love. "Try Again" is a very good album opener. Abandoning the past, Trotter sings about separation, putting their eagerness towards the future first. This concept album is a fantastic idea. The tracks on the CD appear in order of when they wrote them. I respect this part of the CD as The Higher were effectively able to explore member changes, and going through betrayal, separation, and new beginnings, while also making the band prevail on forward to new boundaries.

With the new music video taking place in a supermarket, title track "It's Only Natural" contains the catchy remnants that their past albums that we've grown to love. The best track on the 12-track record is the rock-based song "Play With Fire." The lyrics journey us through overconfident girls whose beauty is covered by their unoriginality. The subtle synthesizer in this song reminds me of Europe's famous masterpiece, "The Final Countdown." Well, if any of the members of The Higher are reading this, give your drummer a tap on the back. Doug "Duug Fresh" McCarthy without a doubt used the synthesizer more effectively than the 80s glam band. If the album ended after track 7, I would be simply amazed.

The second half of this album had great vocals, but nothing had that memorable and catchy attitude from which The Higher have claimed their fame. On a song by song basis, these tracks were decent. As a Higher fan from the beginning, they added a new flavor that didn't really work out. I can respect the amount of experimentation on this concept album. The ending of this album did in fact end on a fantastic note. Just like On Fire, "Scandalous" was a two-part song with two completely different elements. The first half was their great rock sound, and the song was completed just like their previous album with beats and an acoustic guitar. What amazed me about this song was that there were two lyrical elements, split up by the two halves of the song. I can tell that Seth Trotter put a lot of time into "Scandalous" both lyrically and instrumentally.

I have to recommend this album. If you like their older albums, or bands along the lines of The Cab or Panic At The Disco, I would strongly recommend giving this a listen. The first half of the album was absolutely fantastic. I just felt that the ship capsized during the latter part of the album. I have a lot of respect for this album, I get the feeling that this is what the Higher is now. The Higher is clearly not the same band that they were on their past two albums, and It's Only Natural proves that they're not ashamed to tell their story.

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