Pieces That Don’t Fit
One of the most amazing aspects of music is its unique power to affect the listener– something that Morcheeba’s Head Up High distinctly lacks. Perhaps it’s a cultural divide, or maybe it’s a result of the musicians tiring after over 15 years at work, but something about Head Up High is just tough to get.
The band, backed by musical brothers Paul and Ross Godfrey and headed up by vocalist Skye Edwards, has everything going for it. Their sound is a unique blend of artsy rock, sophisticated pop and wild trip-hop. The album exhibits solid production and varied instrumentation throughout. It’s catchy, funky and certainly unpredictable. On paper, it’s a great album. And yet, something is lacking.
“Gimme Your Love” opens the album on a strong note with a heavy hip-hop beat and tinges of a dubstep sound. It brings its weight with sexy vocals, heavy beat drops, record scratching, even a Santana-esque guitar solo– everything is here, right? Maybe that’s the problem. Any competent cook knows what happens when you use too many spices in the same dish. You can’t taste any of them, and you end with something unspeakably bland.
Head Up High has its moments. “Call It Love” twists the rock ballad formula into a strange direction that feels almost like something TV on the Radio would do. “I’ll Fall Apart” lingers over a smooth lounge-act sound, and winds up being the most memorable moment on the whole album. Yet on the whole, it seems like Morcheeba is trying to do too much. It’s impossible to see the forest because they’ve painted every tree a different color.
A good album is like a well-decorated room. All of the elements contained in it work with one another to create a flow and harmony that give it cohesion, and that is what Head Up High is missing. The artists seem to have thrown every disparate sound they could find into the same pot, hoping to find the perfect recipe.
Unfortunately, for all its technical chops and wild ambitions, Head Up High often comes off as tired and cliche. It doesn’t have the style or substance it needs to be truly enjoyable, and Morcheeba fails to bring the artistry and taste it needs to be outstanding. As a result, it’s just okay.