The High: Somewhere Soon (1990)

During my law school years (1988-1991), I moved beyond the mainly U.S.-based jangly guitar pop that got me through college and turned my attention to the slew of UK-based bands, early Britpop and shoegaze and the like.  An early favorite was the Stone Roses' 1989 self-titled album, still one of the best works of the era; The High's Somewhere Soon was something I picked up the following year due to some favorable comparisons to the Roses.  The band never got the same traction here in the US as some of their peers, and broke up after a few follow-up tunes, but the album holds up surprisingly well not just as an artifact of its time but as some genuinely engaging music deserving of a second look.

The High are more on the Britpop side of the equation, clean guitars and catchy melodies, with just a hint of psychedelic nostalgia, more akin to the Roses and The La's and eschewing the distortion swirl of bands like Ride and House of Love.  The clear stand-out is the single "Box Set Go," sporting a fantastic hook that needles into your brain, with an entrancing dynamic balancing out the jangly guitars with some judiciously-deployed buzz; to this day, still one of the best songs of the era, easily on the same footing as the La's better-remembered "There She Goes."  (It doesn't hurt that the song was produced by the late Martin Hannett of Joy Division and early New Order fame.)

But the album is more than just a showcase for the single; a few other tunes, particularly the moody, striking "This Is My World," the quietly infectious "Up And Down," and the hypnotic "Take Your Time."  And the rest, even if less notable, certainly holds together, a perfectly pleasant record with a whiff of darkness and melancholy underlying the midtempo pop groove that still draws me in.

Here's the "Box Set Go" video:
 And here's the "Up And Down" video: