Highly Suspect misses the mark in experimenting with new sounds

In a world where most rock heroes are either aging or have already passed away, it is hard not to get excited when a promising young rock band like Highly Suspect appears. After the success of their first album, Mister Asylum, which landed the band two Grammy Nominations (Best Rock Album and Best Rock Song), it seemed like they had the music industry in the palm of their hand.

The promise of the band’s earlier work is one reason why it pained fans so deeply when Highly Suspect’s third studio album, MCID, turned out to be a disappointment. Of course bands evolve, as does the ambition that goes into creating a unique album. In this case, the band’s vision of a completely new sound was poorly executed, especially considering the sound and success Highly Suspect has already achieved. 

The album is inconsistent in its overall sound, with each song pulling the listener into completely different genres: From hip hop on “Tokyo Ghoul,” which features Young Thug, to “16,” which reflects the band’s former rock/groove sound. Throughout the album, there are intermittent, lo-fi tracks such as “Tetsuo’s Bike” and “Juzo,” which bring the listener, once again, into a different soundscape.

Frankly, the album is difficult to sit through. It lacks coherence and the lyrics are often rudimentary, even cringey. Take, for example, the opening track, “Fly,” wherein the last quarter of the song, the lead singer, Johnny Stevens, gives random shoutouts: “Shout out to Pam the cat / Shout out to Jolene the dog,” not adding anything to the music or the sound. 

Sadly, MCID is a confusing, poorly executed attempt at bridging gaps between genres. Although this album sorely missed the mark, listeners shouldn’t give up on Highly Suspect just yet. Their past work proves that the group is capable of bringing more to the table in the future.

1.5 out of 5 stars

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