Nestled somewhere in the nebulous cracks between genres, The Actors' latest EP High and Low (my first encounter with their sound) is a moving combination of heroic vocals, gentle synthesizer tones, and grooving beats. Mixed with a generous helping of reverb, High and Low is a vivacious and sincere synth-heavy pop album.
Opened by rhythmic tonal croaks amidst layers of ethereal synth melodies, High and Low gradually comes to life with the esoteric “Theory of Something.” An interesting combination of lyrics both metaphorical and grounded, “Theory of Something” builds its conclusion in charming vocal harmonies that “everything is something sometime” only to morph into a gentle grooving outro.
“Through A False Door” follows, quickly exploding in a brilliant burst of guitar hooks and voluminous synthesizer tones. Characterized by its epic atmosphere and a chugging baseline, “Through A False Door” continues to build on the previous tracks intensity with the lead singer belting out in a powerful high tenor.
With a distinct synth line and funky grind on the bottom end, all the best elements that make up High and Low come together on the albums most seductive track “First Date.” The singer is able to show off an impressive vocal range, with fantastic harmonies supporting it, while a tight knit drum and bass build a strong foundation for the more delicate synth tones to rest upon.
This probably best describes what the Actors are able to accomplish with their sound. With such epic and capacious sounds there needs to be something that grounds the listener to the moment of the song. Strong rhythmic baselines coupled with an impressive clock-like drummer fix the ears to a point while the rest of the sounds spiral about in glorious high-energy bursts and reverberations.
Catchy and sweet, High and Low is an exciting EP with plenty of space to discover sounds and hooks within the music that will certainly delight your ears. Rumor is The Actors are working on a new release. If High and Low is a herald of anything then we should expect whatever is upcoming to be just as stimulating.
"Hillburg's songs are modern and fresh while also being eerily reminiscent of some of the best singer-songwriters of the classic era. She easily calls to mind the classic pop sensibilities of Harry Nillson, the romantic drama of Fleetwood Mac, the confessional lyricism of Joni Mitchell, and the effortless hooks of Paul McCartney--all without sacrificing her own strong and individual voice.
The 13 song album ranges from bittersweet ballads ("Raise the Saddle", "For Good"), to dance-pop ( "Wine in a Tea Cup"), to caustic folk ("Instead") and beyond. This is a brave and straightforward collection of songs. Warm, rich, and comforting, Anna Hillburg's first solo album is poised for big things. Release Date: March 25, 2013.Pressing Details: 500 pressed; black vinyl."