It can be difficult for a band in their thirteenth year to craft music that rivals their commercial peak. This is affected by the inherent ageism in the pop industry, but even without that challenge there comes a time when a group has simply ‘been there, done that’ with most genres and sounds. Where do you go from there? Highlight’s recent releases have been solid but generic, harnessing trends with a sturdy reliability but little flair. New single Alone occasionally recaptures the magic of their best work. However, it’s let down by a weak series of hooks.
Alone coasts on the kind of groove-driven instrumental we’ve heard many times this year, but it earns extra points by keeping the energy brisk and funky. The verses are especially sticky, with rhythm and vocal combining to create a smooth entry ramp into the chorus. The arrangement pulls back briefly before injecting guitar for more texture and drive. It’s a familiar trick that’s been rendered largely unimpressive in the absence of a great melody, and this is where Alone begins to feel less impactful.
Highlight give a great performance, but the chorus has a workmanlike structure that doesn’t do much for the track. It hinges on a repeated line that lacks the highs and lows of a great refrain. Instead, Alone relies on the strength of its groove to compel attention. In this regard, it’s slightly above average when compared to its many peers. But, I don’t see this having much staying power.