Mild High Club’s debut album Timeline is at once nostalgic and familiar, harking back to the sounds of 60s psych, but eliminating any kitsch by pairing these warped melodies with sincere lyrics. Moreover, the album is coherent in its simplicity, short and sweet, with each song clocking in at around three minutes or less and favouring instrumental rifts over lyric-heavy verses.
LA-based Alexander Brettin, the man behind Mild High Club, began recording the album in 2012 with a Fostex 4-track cassette recorder, MacBook, 12-string electric guitar, Portasound keyboard, bass, drum machine, and “whatever was lying around.” This last pseudo-instrument is perhaps apparent only on “Undeniable,” a cacophonous experiment that sounds a bit as if you were woozy from a recent head injury and found yourself wandering through a travelling carnival to seek medical attention. But even in this instance, Timeline is by no means amateurish in its composition. For a project that Brettin describes as “a vessel for musical and comical curiosities,” he seems to have already perfected the dreamy haziness of a lazy day soundtrack without venturing into the territory of stereotypical West Coast surf pop.
With vocals that ring like an echo, comparisons will inevitably be drawn between Mild High Club and Ariel Pink, who himself is featured on the intoxicatingly cutesy sing-along track “The Chat.” And with songs tinged with honest lyrics about love, he runs alongside the more contemporary Mac DeMarco. “You and Me” especially sounds like a younger version of Brettin serenading his crush at summer camp. And with stargazing tracks like “Elegy,” Timeline transports us back to easier and carefree times, back to an era where high school students would smoke underneath the bleachers between classes and scrawl into personal diaries, as Brettin does with “Note to Self,” which is quite literally a melodic note to himself.
Listening to Mild High Club is like closing your eyes and walking through a mist. Although this sound is nothing we haven’t heard before, familiarity does not always carry with it negative connotations. If you’re looking for an album to accompany your stoned tandem bicycle ride this summer, Timeline is it.
Timeline will be released on September 18th
Review by Jennifer Sin