High Violets at Stereo Embers

Sometimes the problem with being local heroes is eventually you get taken for granted, washed over by the ceaseless tide of the new. Ironically, this is especially true, it seems, when you’re as consistently excellent as the High Violets have been.

Jump-started back in 1998 by Clint Sargent and Luke Strahota following the collapse of also popular Portland band Bella Low, the Violets present their fourth studio album Heroes and Haloes amid a long-established, constant – and constantly high – level of expectation and of course it’s an exemplary forty minutes of shoedream gazepop, sculpting away at all those loftily-erected contours as usual, but by all means don’t let that predictability preclude your curiosity. That would be unwise, that would border on the tragically negligent. Not toward the band but toward yourself, as you’d miss the instant career-defining dynamism of “How I Love (everything about you)” as it blasts off from two sharp, treated snare slaps into a jetstream of roilingly ecstatic romanticism, singer Kaitlyn ni Donovan presiding with supernal calm over a ringing roar full of bright burbling synths, a passing ghost chorus of background vox and the guitar riff of the year, a simple two-toned slide pattern that bestows upon the track instant classic status and that’s just the first cut.

You’d also miss “Dum Dum”‘s sweet but heavy pop sway as it deftly layers Donovan’s damning lilt of a vocal over Sargent’s dark shards of guitar, the smoothly pulsing “Longitude” the melody of which attaches itself unshakably to that hook-craving part of your brain that insists on humming it back to itself without end, the shimmering assault of poignant loveliness that is the title track, sweeping over you in shudders and pounding waves, its sound a thing you succumb to and more-than-willingly. You’d miss all that and more and we are quite very sure indeed you do not want to do that.

Matured yet as fuel-injected as ever (check out the tumultuous beauty of “Comfort in Light), as capable of bewitching mystery as ever (the shoegazey gauze of “Ease On”), as imperishably groove-melodic as ever (“Break A Heart” is St Etienne fronted by Dusty Springfield only with a John Squire guitar break), on Heroes and Haloes (available April 1st on Saint Marie) the High Violets return full force as the band again reach effortless crests that all the new(er)comers would be wise to aspire to.