HiGH - Bummer Burner (Cover Artwork)


Bummer Burner (2015)


When I was junior in high school, if queried at gunpoint, I would have sighed and stated that I could never be forced to choose between Placebo’s “Every You, Every Me” or The Smith’s “How Soon Is Now?” as the summation of my thus far existence, then punctuate the statement by taking a long drag on a clove cigarette. A dramatically dramatic response to dramatically dramatic songs—are you catching my drift here? For likely the same reason my mom and dad occasionally had to wonder where the fuck they went wrong in raising me throughout high school and how I frequently eye-rolled myself into migraine headaches, these songs pretentiously and irrationally resonated with me then in all of their angst.

Fast-forward a few hard-worked and fairly average “real world” years later and the same songs, though still appreciated and nostalgic, appear maudlin—emotions dressed in Nathan Lane Birdcage drag—in comparison to the ordinariness that is everyday adult upset. A parking ticket here, an “ex-stole-your-identity-and-raped-your-credit-score” there: this is, mostly and mercifully, as bad as it gets on the reg. Getting dumped for the 1st and the 21st time feel very differently and require a very different soundtrack—enter HiGH’s Bummer Burner, the tongue-in-cheek, happy-go-lucky validation of adult emotions through pop punk that you didn’t realize you were deprived of until you hear it.

Nostalgic and warmly familiar at first listen, Isidore Grisoli (vocals/bass), Craig Oubre (guitar/vocals) and Joshua White (drums/vocals) navigate songs and subject matter throughout Bummer Burner’s 10 tracks without the crutch of absolutes or extremes for effect; instead, they show editorial discretion by maximizing the efficiency of the in-between, not particularly overindulgent, but never lacking. As stated simply in “Rusty”, a jeering yet jaunty exercise in social anxiety by-proxy, “I can’t eat / I can’t sleep / I can’t be your company […] I can tell you already know / some things are better being alone”; and yet the sentiment is easily repealed with a well-learned, 20/20 hindsight— “but then again, my baby / some things are worse”.

Much like life, Bummer Burner does oscillate—“I Think We’re Alone Now” is bravely adorable, sincere in its sweetness. “Go Home” takes you into the shit politics of adult friendships—here, HiGH manages to make “Go back the fuck to Wisconsin” just as effective as Jesse Lacey’s fuck-you soliloquy from “Seventy Times Seven”, but on a Twitter character budget. “Blind Life” is the recognition and reconciliation that, just maybe, you don’t have it all figured out, but you’re not done learning yet.

Bummer Burner is the difference between “sad” and “bummed”, active angst and passive ennui, 17 and 27. It’s Non-Embarrassing Punk Pop for the Adult Soul, if you will—a lot like Jawbreaker’s masterpiece Dear You, if the main influence hadn’t been “weep-masturbating quietly in the corners of WeHo lofts,” was cross-pollinated with Weezer’s Blue Album, if you kept the chill stoner vibe, nixed the nerdiness, and deep fried it in a warm and fuzzy Southern Blues-y grunge. If that’s not clear enough, just listen to Oubre’s fuzz-fueled solos that come on like aural Ambien—it doesn’t matter if you get it, because you damn sure do feel it. You can pick up a digital copy of Bummer Burner by HiGH here, via Bandcamp.