U.S. Highball No Thievery, Just Cool

30th June 2023

Format Info

LP - Lava Java Swirl
Monorail Exclusive Lava Java Swirl
LP - Lava Java Swirl with Riso
Monorail Exclusive Lava Java Swirl
LP - Lava Java Swirl with Riso, Mixtape And Badge
LP with Numbered Riso Print, Mixtape and Badge. Monorail Exclusive Lava Java Swirl


First 20 copies with Mixtape, Badge & Numbered Riso
Next 30 copies with Numbered Riso

Glasgow cult coolsome twosome U.S. Highball are on a roll at the moment, firing out a follow up to 2022’s A Parkhead Cross Of The Mind in under a year. What’s most remarkable though, is the song quality seems to be elevating with each release. The group, James Hindle and Calvin Halliday have jumped headfirst into some other plane of existence, an everflowing stream of melody and ideas that they’re swimming through with aplomb.

There’s a consistency with U.S. Highball. They set the parameters early in their journey: a love of classico Indie Pop, a nod (ok, a full on cap doffing) to American pop of various stripes, a powerfully cute self-belief in their music and their own friendship. Within these borders though, Hindle and Halliday have expanded their repertoire and on No Thievery, Just Cool they’ve incorporated the adrenaline rush of 80s Power Pop (You can practically feel the day glo ghost of Rick Springfield guiding the group on opener See You In Hell), some Country music inflections, a more developed use of harmonies and instrumentation that belies the personnel count of the band.
Maybe the biggest extra element that’s been shined and polished on “No Thievery” is this belly laugh-ful sense of humour. Even the album title reeks of a band in-joke which you know is funny, you just don’t know why yet. Hindle’s lyrics have grown more acerbic in a fun way and they land all the better in contrast with the endearing sweetness of the music. On Rochelle the band sound like they’re metaphysically part of Glasgow, recalling a classic Belle & Sebastian chorus, with a dark lyric referencing drowning and hell while bathing in a bittersweet arrangement.
  • Monorail Music

The record was masterfully mixed by Melbourne-based legend-in-the-making Snowy – best known for his work with The Ocean Party and Ciggie Witch – whose ardent ear for detail helped breath fresh life into the songs during the mixing process, bringing out the best in Halliday and Hindle’s unorthodox arrangements. Mastering duties were handled once again by Ian Farmer – also of Slaughter Beach, Dog – further cementing his status as the band’s de-facto third member. 

As ever, U.S. Highball have fashioned a densely-populated lyrical world that’s at once surrealistic and chock-full of kitchen sink detail, with songs frantically ushering the listener from Buchanan Street to Boulevard Saint-Michel in the space of a single hook-stuffed chorus. Irresponsible Holiday – arguably the album’s most urgent earworm – revels in the workaday minutiae of office life, the aforementioned Paris 2019 alludes to brushing up against overly-opinionated strangers on the streets of the City of Lights, while Marjorie Says is a disarmingly earnest love letter to Calvin’s dog. 

Throughout the half-hour of power that comprises No Thievery, Just Cool, what ultimately stands out is the band’s steadfast and unwavering commitment to melody above all. Whether crafting breezy college rock rippers or 80s-indebted slices of eccentric new wave, in the universe of U.S. Highball, the chorus is king. 

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