Release Date: Aug 26, 2016
Record label: Stones Throw
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Neo-Psychedelia
As sleek as satin, as smooth as velvet, with an air of mystery and just a hint of irreverence is Skiptracing, the sophomore release by Mild High Club, the musical brainchild of Alexander Brettin. Compared to a "private investigator attempting to trace the steps of the sound and the spirit of American music," Skiptracing is characterized by a cinematic feel, tinged with 1970s hues, jazzier moments and brief psychedelic spells. Themes of cabarets and coin tosses into wishing wells (penultimate track "Chapel Perilous" ends with the heavily altered vocal delivery of Jiminy Cricket's sentiment "When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true") are par for the course here, as are multiple reprises.
Skiptracing arrives less than a year after Mild High Club's 2015 debut full-length Timeline, and while Alexander Brettin and his pals are still crafting a welcoming brand of mellow, sun-soaked psychedelic pop, they seem significantly more ambitious this time out. Timeline featured laid-back grooves that seemed simple but were far too detailed and considered to appear lazy, even if the music itself made an appropriate soundtrack for spending a sunny afternoon getting high. Skiptracing sports a much fuller sound and a wider scope, and takes more risks.
It seems reasonable now to look back on late 2012 as the Time of Mac. That fall, independent music fans en masse embraced the twinkly delights of scrub hero Mac DeMarco’s 2, opening the door for legions of low-key fiends ready to peddle their slinky, ’70s AM radio-inspired songs. Folks like Travis Bretzer, Alex Calder, and Connan Mockasin have all owed some debt to DeMarco for his role in making their music more visible and palatable.
When Peanut Butter Wolf opened the books on Circle Star Records last year, it was seen by many as a way to refocus the weedy and increasingly weirdening Stones Throw catalog. While Stones Throw could continue releasing the quality independent hip-hop it had become known for, the Circle Star imprint would be able to put out the glammy indie rock that had begun to tickle the London-based DJ’s fancy. Mild High Club’s debut full-length, Timeline, was one of the imprint’s first releases, full of soft ’70s pop rock and swirling synths that courted comparisons to Mac DeMarco and T.
“Skip Tracing” is the act searching out a person who has disappeared. It’s an interesting title for a record because it sets the listener up for a journey, a discovery. The distortion in this: the journey is one of self-discovery, or at least attempted self-discovery. As can be assumed with a group named Mild High Club, the journey they take us on here is a little woozy yet pleasurable.