The Heights’ third EP Drag Race On The Moon showcases impressive atmospherics and melodies, while a star is born in Gavin Sutton, a frontman with a pristinely clean, soothing voice, which suit much of the lyrics (dealing with emotions) perfectly. But is this the future of pop-punk? No. At least probably not. The classic rock band setup supports Gavin’s vocals with solid drumming and guitar trying their best to lure listeners in, but they lack any real gritty or edgy quality that rubs up against you and drags you into their lunar drag race.
Opening track ‘Soldier’ has a gradual escalation to the crescendo that is the chorus, yet, like the EP as a whole, it leaves you with the feeling that something fundamental is missing. I can’t help but feel as though it needs to build to an even bigger finish, not just to each repeat of the chorus. For any AFI fans, what I have in mind is something more like ‘This Time Imperfect’, a song which does build up to each rendition of the chorus, but ends with a more powerful finish. On the other end of the scale second track ‘Some Give You Away’ has an upbeat tempo with guitar riffs and a catchy chorus, but it lacks the sort of build-up that made ‘Soldier’ more special.
‘Devil’ appears to be an early fan favourite from the EP, being the most anthemic track with a catchy melody as well as a little guitar solo which gives it an extra dimension, earning it a more dynamic standing than the others. Contrary to perceived wisdom, I would recommend listening to ‘Spinning Webs’ in particular. The track is more slow and powerful than the rest of the EP, bringing a ballad to the front and centre. Explaining the songs inclusion on the EP the band said: “There are not many local bands that have ever included a piano ballad on their releases. There might be a reason why, but I like to think it was a ballsy move on our part, and I’m hoping it pays off.” They’re right, a slow piano ballad is not a common feature of any release claiming to be pop-punk, but forgetting labels and preconceived notions of how a band should sound, there is a lot of heart in this track. Everyone can relate to wishing something had happened differently, wanting to change the past or wondering if things could have gone differently if only you had acted differently. The song opens just with Gavin singing along to a tune on the piano, before shortly after the drums start up with a gentle beat. If you want a song that you can sit down and play or sing along to, look no further.
All things considered, the EP is solid and perhaps I’ve been a little over critical, but it’s only because I believe they are capable of more. None of the songs are bad, but they fail to really hit home and if critical reviews can annoy bands enough to prove the reviewer wrong, let’s hope this works. Watch this space.
2.5 out of 5 high fives!