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[Vegas]

The Higher

It’s Only Natural

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The Higher - It’s Only Natural

Album

Album cover art

"It's Only Natural" MP3s

  • It's Only Natural

  • Closer (Cover of NeYo)

Vegas-based Epitaph band The Higher has chugged along as The Little Engine That Just Might for seven-plus years now, and though its third full-length won’t bring it that much closer to the top, It’s Only Natural solidifies the unapologetic R&B-spiked, mainstream-pop sound previously chased with mixed results.

The album kicks off with dual-harmony peppered “Try Again” and flowing-maned vocalist Seth Trotter admitting, “I’m getting older, and I know that nothing’s changed.” Well, yes and no. The now-foursome is certainly older and still hesitates to stray far from the fairer-sex inspirational well. When Trotter croons of effortless seduction in “Scandalous” or drifting apart in “Other Options,” however, the lyrics give a fuller, more complete picture than in days past.

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Having replaced a drummer and bid adieu to longtime guitarist Tom Oakes, the band is certainly different from the last go-round, personnel-wise. As Trotter promised in an October Weekly interview, a more rocking vibe is present—assuming a smattering of wailing solos counts as a more rocking vibe (see “Beautiful Coffins”). And that closing cover of onetime Las Vegan Ne-Yo’s “Closer”? That’s certainly a new one.

Producer Mike Green, who worked on sophomore effort On Fire, returns to put an ultrasleek, impressively professional sheen on the dozen tracks. Vocal digi-wizardry abounds, as do slinky keyboard flourishes. There are several numbers ostensibly competing to be dance-floor breakouts, yet there’s nothing particularly upbeat, or boasting an irresistible rhythmic pulse, that stands out as a true contender. The title track is the most infectious of the bunch, while “Story of a Man Obsessed” seems the most effortlessly joyous. There’s also an interesting angle to “Undertaker,” a Vegas-centric boast that deserves the living-large video treatment Fire’s “Insurance?” already enjoyed.

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Julie Seabaugh

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