Higher HopesSpartan Records
By AJ Phink
Iceland’s Ourlives relased Higher Hopes at the tail end of last month, this is the first material they’ve released since their critically acclaimed debut album, Den Of Lions, that was released in 2014. Higher Hopes is a collection of nine rarities that will tide fans over until the band’s next release of new material, it is a compilation of nine b-sides, studio outtakes and unreleased songs that have been culled from their back catalogue, including material dating back to their 2009 Icelandic debut.
Higher Hopes opens with the title track, this is a gentle acoustic number, the second number starts in the same vein but thankfully builds up the tempo as the song progresses, but not too much as this a distinctly mellow album, that isn’t a criticism, every now and again we all need something for those times when we’re winding down. I’ve read articles where comparisons have been made between Ourlives and the brit pop bands of the nineties, personally I think that this is doing them a disservice as I found Brit Pop to be largely formulaic and derivative, that is not an accusation that can be made of Ourlives. Higher Hopes is an collection of rarities and forgotten songs that possesses more than a modicum of charm and originality.
Iceland has a history of producing unique musical acts, whether its the experimentalism of Bjork, or the art rock of Sigur Ros, and I think that Ourlives carry on in that fine tradition of making unique music. Whilst this is a markedly less frenetic, and much more melancholy, offering than the kind of album I would usually choose to listen to. Higher Hopes is an album that is not without it’s charm, when the mood takes me this will be something that I’ll be revisiting from time to time.
Ourlives will release new material on the Black River EP that is due for release this Autumn.
Higher Hopes can be ordered from Spartan Records here