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The High Plains Drifters were sired after a night of too much booze and too little food at a Tex-Mex spot in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea. Fast forward a couple of years, and their second LP (due this year) is produced by Greg Cohen (Nile Rogers, Robin Thicke). It perfects the genre-bending sound that made their debut a buzzing sensation. But right now, the NY-based band is enjoying the success of ‘Songs Of Love And Loss’. An emotional throwback to the VHS era that deals with the experience of letting go of that ‘one-and-only’ notion at a young age, the 6-track record explores diverse genres, as they come together for a sonic journey that feels fresh from start to finish.
Opener ‘The One That Got Away’ presents the band endowed with electric energy, but yet warm and familiar, reminiscent of The Strokes during the turn of the 2000’s. Here Larry Studnicky sets the narrative tone for the rest of the record, as he sings wary about the better days, seemingly stuck there, but doubtful, wondering if they were really better. It’s that gripping love-limbo most of us have visited once or twice in our lives.
On the first turn, we find ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’, which sees Balearic guitar riffs surfing over neon padded keys that light up in 80s pastel fashion, bringing along a sense of acceptance with them. It s just the perfect dose of 80’s nostalgia to get to look over the shoulder in peace. By the time we get down to the record’s third track, ‘Ruby Run Away With Me’, it’s classic Americana guitars running free between the galloping low end as an ascending choir breaks the clouds wide open, allowing for optimism to fuel the escapade with Ruby.
Crossing the halfway mark, the aptly titled ‘Nuclear Winter’ commences with a siren, followed by what sounds much like a weapon of mass destruction going off in the background. Suddenly, the cut swiftly turns into a stark territory. A blend of organic guitars and new wave power the most aggressive song on the album, as Studnicky is left with questions unanswered following the obliteration of what once was. For its part, ‘Jennifer Anniston (Why Are You Single?) (2021 Remix)’ finds techno/EDM stalwart Kris Vanderheyden revamping the single as an irresistible slice of indie dance, as Larry’s vocals strut with style over a classic house beat that maximizes ‘Jennifer’’s dance-ability (yes, that clearly a word, look it up) while Studio 54-style synths elevate the track to shiny-disco-ball heaven.
Closing out the 6-tracker, ‘He Reminds Me Of You’ is a sultry slice of electro-pop, where a gorgeous candy-laced female vocal plays a very fun part in a soft pop-rock duet that is a certified singalong moment. Colorful and vibrant drums push the song forward as the band shows their knack for hooks and arrangements that delightfully echo in our heads. It’s a most welcomed endorphin rush as Larry’s daydream comes to a halt. Much like all good REM cycles do.
Listen to The High Plains Drifters’ ‘Songs Of Love And Loss’ below and purchase your copy here.