Human Highway – [Album]

Monday, 01 September 2008

Taking the combined pedigrees of Jim Guthrie and Nick Thorburn into account, it’s a pretty safe assumption that, walking in, listeners have an idea what they’re going to get from the duo’s joint side project. Guthrie was the ad hoc namesake for the now-defunct Three Gut Records (once home to a host of meek folk and rock acts – and The Constantines) and built his name on making a sort of folk rock comparable to an indie informed, Harvest Moon-era Neil Young while Thorburn has gotten a tremendous amount of critical praise recently for making pristine, cinematic, high-concept orchestrated rock with Islands.

Listeners should check any preconceived notions of what they’ll get on Moody Motorcycle, however, or risk the possibility of monumental disappointment.

Rather than some bombastic statement that employs all of the stars that the duo’s membership enjoys, Human Highway’s debut instead chooses the less traveled, off-beat path to win a small, very select listener base’s collective heart. From a songwriting standpoint, as early as the opening build of “The Sound,” Jim Guthrie and Nick Thorburn exhibit the influences that everyone expects – those of both Neil Young’s early solo work and that of CSNY as well – are firmly entrenched but the songs are all more exuberant than anything the acts that Human Highway could consider peers have done. Human Highway`s vocal harmonies are actually closer to Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys in their delicate and methodical delivery and the laidback timbre that the band takes is also similar to that of the Wilson brothers. Because of that delivery, songs like “Get Lost,” “What World” and “Sleep Talking” are all exhilarating listens because of the unusual, touch-me-not delivery of them and they’re actually more memorable than the larger, more instrumentally lush numbers like “Pretty Hair,” “Duties Of A Lighthouse Keeper” and the title track.

On their debut, Human Highway has somehow managed to connect the dim and urbane aesthetic of a great coffeehouse show with the sun and tranquility of a beach in the early morning without any major or even noticeable stylistic clashes. It’s an unusual and difficult line to walk – and an unlikely one for this duo – but that it works so well is the greatest surprise and most enjoyable aspect of the record.


Moody Motorcycle is out now on Suicide Squeeze. Buy it NOW on!

Comments are closed.