For those of you put off by the indie-rock, members-only club of obscurity and the sheer crapiness of mainstream music, the Heavenly States manage the balance between hipster cred and universal appeal. Their post-punk pop-rock revisits the notion that popular does not mean ordinary.
Not unlike some older alt-pop bands like the Eels, Weezer and even Third Eye Blind, the HS’s dense lyrics and saturated yet feathery melodies are enough to unite teeny-boppers and critics alike. Their setup is a trio: one dynamic singer-guitarist, one accomplished violinist-keyboardist, and an absolutely airtight drummer, adding up to the instrumentation of an orchestra and the levity of a chart-topping pop band.
The distinct and consistent sound that permeates the entire sophomore album, Black Comet, suggests that the Heavenly States may have zeroed in on a lost formula for success and staying power: old-fashioned quality. The first track, ‘Look and Listen’, is an explosion of pop power ignited by the vocals and rounded out by the lush strings and immaculate drumming. Tracks like ‘Elastic Days’ and ‘A Revolution Away’ are blissful in their subtlety — but there are a few others that risk being a bit busy or over-sung. ‘The Pale’ would make for a great single, with an attractive rhythm and lyrics that invoke the kind of heartfelt crooning that makes it feel so good to feel so bad (a la Rivers Cuomo).
While the HS’s music works in many different layers, they certainly aren’t too high and mighty for the pop charts. It’s actually kind of refreshing to be musically provoked into un-hip, unadulterated acts like singing in the shower, in the car, or on the subway with your iPod — if you don’t mind looking crazy