One listen to Up High in the Night proves that there are at least some bands out there that only need the basics to make a record these days. It’s clear the band didn’t indulge in too many fancy technical embellishments or spend endless studio hours perfecting guitar or drum tracks and, as a result, the spirit of good old-fashioned garage rock is alive as far as these Seattle based alt-popsters are concerned.
The 12 songs on the album are rough and raw, without being sloppily performed or recorded, and after a few listens, the hypnotic hooks and melodies of some of the songs gradually begin to reveal themselves.
If the fuzzy pop-rock of “Shutterbug” is any indicator, the Posies and the Beach Boys are obviously an influence and most of the songs have a definite West Coast pop feel to them, whilst remaining slightly left of the middle. Fuzzy guitars abound again in the slightly dark opener “Forgotten”, whilst the anthemic “Oh Yeah” and rhythmic “Nerf Bear Bonanza” are difficult to remove from your consciousness after a few listens.
The two minute delight of “Kenji” recalls the likes of Weezer and rocks harder than everything else on the record, whilst the delicate “Elena” is the closest the band get to a ballad, even though it patently isn’t one. However, the album is not all of the same standard, and although Arlo combine pop sensibilities with indie credibility, tracks like “So Long”, “Loosen Up” and “Lil’ Magic” tend to blur into an almost predictable, bland sound after prolonged listens.
Overall, Up High in the Night is mildly diverting pop in moderation, and even though that’s nothing exactly new or earth shattering, it’s to be applauded that Arlo has an ethos of making records on their own terms rather than with some pre-conceived marketing plan in mind.