Aaron Worley | Contributing Writer
Mild High Club’s debut album “Timeline” is a long-stretched effort to incorporate elements of neo-psychedelia. Inspirations were drawn from the eclectic songwriting and production abilities of The Beatles, The Zombies, the 13th Floor Elevators, and the overall feel of Mac Demarco.
These attempts almost succeeded, but at times the album feels like too much of an easy listen; a project that could be passed off as just a good sounding-album, but doesn’t have much depth. Mild High Club’s attempt at showing an exciting resurgence of psychedelic rock comes off as half-hearted, but decent.
What the album fails to do is solidify its tracks as memorable and worthy of being compared positively to other albums in the same genre of music.
Alexander Brettin, the mastermind behind Mild High Club, shows a talent for using keyboard oddities and drum sounds with his backing band to give off a floaty headspace feeling to the listener, and simulate a dream scenario. Lyrics are used sparingly, with more preference towards instrumentals and synth verses than vocally describing concepts.
“Windowpane”, a highlight from the album, displays this concept extensively, backed with woozy and ‘wah-wah’ vocals that sync with the jangling synthesizers halfway through the track. The following song, “Note to Self”, can be compared strongly to the guitar efforts of the late George Harrison, sounding like a modern revamp of “While my Guitar Gently Weeps”.
The problem with this comparison is that while Harrison applies a focused and clear concept with his guitar-playing and lyricism, Brettin goes in a mixed direction with the production, and comes off as oddly confusing.
It is difficult to point out whether he is singing about the uneasy status of a relationship on the track is meant to appeal to emotion, understand his situation, or show mixed feelings towards the girl he is referencing.
In contrary to the low points of the album, there are times it shines and provides a haven for appreciation of excellent musical talent and guitar work. “You and Me”, the fourth song through the album, overlays a constant repetition of wavy chords and synth notes that reflect a comforting and warm aura.
On “Undeniable”, Brettin encourages someone and his love interest (possibly referencing himself) to give whatever they want to happen a try, as if the love they believed each other had for the other person was not being fully expressed.
Moments like these on the album, although gripped with uncertainty, show feelings that are relatable, or otherwise, relevant to the doubts in a relationship. This empathy that is intended to be shown is not a continuous concept through the album, and this, therefore, breaks down the identity of Brettin and pushes the question of, “How do you really feel?”
It seems like there was a direction Brettin intended to go with the project; what that direction was, whether it was to describe his general life, or give cues about romance, while retaining elements of soft rock and psychedelia is too uncertain.
Needless to say, the album is not bad by any means, but a more powerful adjective than “ok” cannot be used in its description. It seems in the end that Brettin stopped to admire the scenery on the path to create this project, and attempted to draw encouragement from different elements and feelings, but ended up becoming distracted.