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The Higher Concept


(Projectivity Movement; US: 19 Jun 2012; UK: 17 Apr 2012)

Pop-rap by the numbers fails to impress.

The Higher Concept bills Everybody as an album “for fathers and sons, daughters and mothers, this is for saints and sinners, haters and lovers. … This is for everybody.” It’s easy to hear the middle-of-the-road thinking that went into its production. Synth-heavy R&B samples meld with rap lite on these tunes, which feature a revolving set of vocalists. The chant-along chorus of album opener “Everybody” sounds as if it was written with the aid of a focus group, but it’s undeniably catchy. Elsewhere, it’s hard to know which is more annoying: the by-the-numbers R&B choruses of “Runnin Away” and “Over”, or the simplistic pop-rap-lite platitudes of “Everything”.

The production here is slick, but when the tunes are this stultifyingly familiar, so what? Things get a little better late in the record: “American Way” benfits from some nice, screechy guitar, while “Used to Say” makes good use of a rattling piano sample and some meaty rhymes. But it’s too little too late. In their attempt to make a record that appeals to everybody, the Higher Concept have ended up with than album that is likely to please no one. And don’t even get me started on the faux-Sergeant Pepper album art and video costumes: just because you mimic greatness, guys, doesn’t mean you’re great.


DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.

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