Release Date: July 29, 2016
Iceland’s Ourlives return with their second stateside release. The band made their U.S. market debut in 2014 with Den of Lions and will return this fall with a brand new EP entitled Black River. Fans who have been patiently waiting though, will find Higher Hopes to be a real treat. Featuring b-sides, new studio outtakes, and material previously only released in their home country, this is the kind of collection that makes you stand up and take notice.
In my opinion the undisputable highlight here is “Honestly.” It’s a melodic indie rocker that seamlessly wraps a near falsetto voice around jangly guitars that start out acoustic and then electrify in more ways than one. It’s very calming in a passive aggressive sort of way. It’s flat out just a perfect moment that reminded me of how good indie rock can still be. “Den of Lions” has a quirkier flare to it, featuring some odd, but funky, bass rhythms and a really snappy snare drum sound that really draws your ear in. On the flipside, “Whisper and Wait” is absolutely breathtaking for completely opposite reasons. The understated vocal work dances around some sparse piano work while it all gets pushed to the surface by an ambient sounding combination of strings and effects. It’s grandiose in the best possible way and about as meditative as they come.
Ourlives was entirely new to me but I’m completely hooked. I can’t stop listening to this album, which has cemented this fall’s upcoming EP as one of my most anticipated releases of 2016. Ourlives is definitely a band to keep your eye on and Higher Hopes, despite being a collection, is an excellent place to start.
Review by mark1340