Purling Hiss – High Bias (Drag City, 2016)
High Bias is Purling Hiss’s eighth studio album in seven years. This Philadelphia-based trio has moved away from the fuzz-draped, grungy, slacker sound of their previous two releases into edgier territory, reminiscent of 70s hard rock. Although chock-full of heavy riffs and frontman Mike Polizze’s signature delay pedal-ridden guitar freakouts, his sensible songwriting shines through when necessary to offer a refreshing sense of balance. For every “Everybody in the USA,” the no-holds-barred 11-minute ender, you have a pop-y, jangly number like “Follow You Around.” The album’s opener, “Fever,” best exemplifies this balance. A thick harmony of scuzzy, psychedelic guitars played out with utmost pop sensibility, this track brings out a yin and yang of heaviness and accessibility, which comes together beautifully. The moments when Polizze and the band move away from this pop-feel, however, is where the album starts to falter. In songs such as “Teddy’s Servo Motors,” we hear the group lean too far toward the heavier end of the spectrum musically, losing the infectious edge which makes them so appealing.
Trial track: “Fever”