Little Stranger – Sing It High
The third studio release from Little Stranger, Styles & Dynamics, emerges with its first single “Sing It High” and it sets the bar high for what is scheduled to follow. The EP title reflects much of what drives Little Stranger’s music, undoubtedly a conscious decision, and the polished production framing the song presents their stylishness and command of music dynamics with great balance and in the best possible aural light. There’s an assortment of instruments dropped into the song’s musical mix, but it never all comes at once and “Sing It High” develops with a tremendous amount of artistry. Little Stranger has gained a lot of praise for their live shows, for good reason we can be sure, but their talents as composers deserve every bit as much note. John and Kevin Shields, not related, possess an enormously personable style together and their creative collaboration sparks from the first.
We don’t hear them at the beginning however. Instead, a snappy drum beat sweeps listeners right into “Sing It High” and it’s clear from the first a slightly rambunctious, unfettered spirit is going to guide much of what we hear for the next four minutes. The introduction of other instruments, acoustic and electric alike, diversify the musical stew in a measured way that never introduces everything at once but, instead, staggers the addition of new colors in a dramatic way. We definitely get a sense of the song unveiling itself to us with great patience that never feels like it drags along. The guitar work is particularly memorable and shows how Little Strangers has zero fear of blending seemingly dissimilar elements in a convincing way. Their confluence of hip hop with more traditional musical styles never feels forced and seems, in all truth, as natural as breathing for this duo.
This freshness extends to their vocals, as well. There’s never too much attitude they bring to bear – the boastfulness and confidence coming across in the lyrics and their delivery isn’t any of the mean-spirited swagger you hear from other hip hop acts, but instead comes off as more a statement of personal/artistic prowess with an upbeat, even slightly humorous, edge. It’s difficult to catch all the lyrics because the intensely rhythmic vocals are intent on matching the music, but critical lines emerge, there’s some nice post-production effects applied to any assortment of passages, and even a dollop of harmonies to sweeten the musical pot a little more. There’s a ton of personality shot through this song as well and it helps make it one of the more memorable single releases in recent memory as well an excellent opening salvo from Styles & Dynamics. Charleston, South Carolina may seem like an unlikely headquarters for this duo, but songs like this will lead you believe that this city may be harboring a musical act ready to take on the entire world.