The Heights - Toys and Kings
Paul Cook 26/06/2007
By no means what you might expect from a welsh rock band, The Heights adopt an indie-tainted Americana style one moment and then switch acutely to an electrically charged indie-pop the next. It's these indie-pop wailers that showcase the band's talents.
Sounding like a mellower, rougher Editors this bands indie tracks are audacious and refreshing. Hearing 'Night Relay' the first track on the album brings back that excitement one had hearing 'Blood' or 'Munich' for the first time. The guitars rip through the bass-line and stab at the drums with purpose and delivery. 'Brakelights' employs this sharp, up tempo methodology and again it results in a likeable though not entirely satisfying pop-rock strummer.
The unfortunate problem hereafter is the vocals. Effortless and quite amateur in sound, the track might sound better without any vocals at all. With the more American rock-pop songs, Owain Ginsberg's vocals work well but twinned with the modern electric riffs they sound weak and out of place. No bravado or passion can be felt through most songs and it is only the melodies that spring from the guitars that carry this band past the amateur stage.
'Jamaica Beer Eyes' and 'Low Drama' are unfortunately what they say on the tin. Both are monotonous and repetitive songs with little to impress. Vocally and musically lacking in prowess and any kind of lyrical-sense they are the biggest disappointment on the album after the thrilling 'Night Relay.'
However, The Heights do redeem themselves with a few fantastic tracks, particularly 'Bad News' and 'For Real.' Both start with the kind of soaring and charged guitar riffs one has come to love about Editors and Maxïmo Park. However, whilst the likes of Paul Smith of the Park and Tom Smith of Editors project the band and lift the music with their vocals, Owain Ginsberg's vocals seem to drag the The Heights debut album Toys and Kings down to an undesirably dreary low.
In essence The Heights are a band with a lot to learn. A new song writer should be the first port of call and possibly a new direction for the vocals too. Musically however the band have crafted an exciting debut album and what Toys and Kings lacks in the mic' department make up for with delicate melodies and sharp powerhouse riffs. 'Toys and Kings' is worthy of a listen but possibly not the retail price.