The first time I started this album up, I was hooked in seven seconds. That may seem hard to believe, but the opening bass line of “Speak Loud (When You Speak Love)” was enough for me to want to stick around for every note of the album. I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time a piece of music caught me so quickly, and while not every moment of the album may shine that brightly, that made this one of my absolute favorite songs of 2020. There isn’t a single bad track, and after about a dozen spins I haven’t had the want to skip one at all. High Times for Loners is damn good.
There is a certain warmth to High Times for Loners that is just invigorating to me. The tone of the guitars is bright, and BRTHR uses a lot of harmonics and major chords to create really pretty parts. “Strawberry Love” is a song I absolutely cannot wait to listen to while enjoying the summer sun. It’s hard not to move and just feel good to this kind of song, and the pace of it just eases you along beautifully. The last thirty seconds in particular are something really special, and I think there might be something wrong with anyone who doesn’t get some kind of joy from it. It’s probably my favorite track on the album, and I think that’s a pretty big thing to say, given the fact I mentioned a different track being one of my favorites of the year already.
As joyful as the opening few tracks are, BRTHR is great at making more somber tracks as well. “Lonely Night” takes a different turn in all regards, with melancholy guitar ambling over much darker lyrics. The emotion Philip Eissler and Joscha Brettschneider put into their playing and singing make it hit the mark very well. “House Of Love”, the following track, continues the same trend of loss and love. This brings the addition of really nice keyboard to the mix, and when it first comes in during the chorus is one of the best parts of the whole album. It’s just the perfect feel for that moment and brings so much emotion with it.
High Times for Loners brings a lot of different sounds to the table, and that’s another thing I enjoy a lot about it. “The Way It Is” channels BRTHR‘s inner Fleetwood Mac, while “No Other Thing” brings a big psychedelic tinge to the guitars that’s evocative of the same era. Every track has a really nice feel, yet they are all incredibly unique and diverse in their sound and tone. BRTHR incorporates a lot of different elements to keep things fresh while still staying in the same wheelhouse and never straying from their roots in soulful Americana goodness. It really showcases how capable they are as songwriters to have 11 tracks that all feel this way.
I am admittedly not the biggest fan of country music. It’s really hard to find any that I truly enjoy, but when I do find it I tend to absolutely love it. “The Way It Is” is a great example of this with its acoustic lead and sliding electric guitar touches. There’s a drawl to it that warms my heart up on every listen. It’s a modern country song done about as perfectly as could be done, and as well-written as any other track on High Times For Loners. It’s no wonder it was one of the lead singles and a song that received the music video treatment.
High Times for Loners is an album that completely blew my expectations out of the water. I was enough of a fan of BRTHR‘s 2018 album, A Different Kind of Light, to want to give this a listen on release, but I didn’t expect it to have so much to offer. They hit any and everything closely related to Americana with such effortless precision, crafting immense songs with really simple compositions and few layers. It’s vibrant and sunny like a summer day at times, and perfect for a lonesome night with a glass of whiskey at others. I don’t know what else I can say to express one simple thing – you need to hear this album.