On his third album Alex Highton has left behind the acoustic folk of his beginnings, now approaching his observational songs with experimental sounds and unlikely grooves.
His appealing voice sits in a sort of (classic) electronic pop now, and although this is quite some change of scenery, it still retains it’s British charm and quirkiness.
Whilst the music may be different, somewhat more uplifting, there's always a darkness lingering beneath the surface. Take the album’s opener “Benny...”, the music all driving synth bass and strings,the lyrics are really quite haunting.
"...if I could only reach for you,
if you could only reach for me.
Practised in the art of dying
practised in the art of dying..."
The accompanying video leans further towards the song's darker lyrical edge, using footage from a haunting experimental dance film “Topic I et II”, a rare, underground masterpiece by Pascal Baes. Filmed in the late eighties, Baes used the old-school, analogue technique of single shots, arranged in stop motion which in turn produces a strange and ghostly flow. The young performers, against a grainy black and white scene, appear disconnected and dislocated from space and time.
And disconnection is what the song is basically about. "There are probably loads of lonely people sitting next to each other all over the world right now, who can’t reach out...it’s a song about people who feel disconnected from the world." says Alex Highton.
It seems the more we are connected through WiFi and cable all over the world, trapped within an artificial, binary social media bubble showing us the lives we should be living, the more difficulties we have to connect appropriately in the real world. Alex doesn't offer any solution, he just describes what's around.
Says Highton "I’m not sure there's any meaning to anything, and life may be shit at times, but you might as well enjoy it while you can...."
Album Welcome To Happiness out March 30. through BB*ISLAND