Music Review: High and Low and Back Again by Fendahlene

© Darren Beckles

High and Low and Back Again is the latest album by Australian rock duo Fendahlene. Recorded at Urchin Studios in East London, High and Low and Back Again is the third album from the two-piece. Inspired by a need to confront and combat things head-on the album is a personal release which swings from highs and lows, hence the title High and Low and Back Again.  

The two-piece consisting of Paul Whiteley and Ashley Hurst formed in Sydney in 1994. With a back catalogue of successful releases, Fendahlene are a well-seasoned band who are getting better with each release. 

The band are no strangers to the industry and have even completed several radio interviews and have collected an impressive amount of airtime. With this being said they are also dominating the streaming game. With over 16,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and title track High and Low and Back Again amassing over 42,000 streams, Fendahlene are making waves in the alternative rock world. 

Burnt Out is the opening track for High and Low and Back Again. Opening with a punchy guitar melody the song has instant appeal. An intricate bassline is quick to follow and adds a layer of complexity to the track.

The upbeat mood of Burnt Out is a great introduction for what can be expected from High and Low and Back Again. The constant energy is paired with a classic guitar solo to create a song that is worthy of a classic rock title.

The albums title track High and Low and Back Again opens with a gentle piano. However, do not be fooled into thinking that this track has no energy. Although still quite downbeat the track gains vitality when the drums kick in. The change in melody makes for an interesting listen that works well to build up the song. Personally I think this would have made a perfect opening track for the album. 

Paul Whiteley’s smooth vocals are accompanied by layers of harmonisation, which only further build up the vibe of the title track. Throughout the entire track, the drums work as a lure which pull you along to the end of the track. With an immense build-up of voices, the track welcomes you to add your own before falling into a slow crescendo. 

Next up is Here and Now, once again the bass is not overlooked in this melodious tune. With a bouncy bassline and punchy guitars, no one instrument is taking centre stage in this song but are instead working at a perfect balance. Taking a more downbeat approach than what has been heard so far Here and Now offers three and a half minutes of easy listening.

© Fendahlene

Taking the midway point of High and Low and Back Again is the 90s derived Can’t Feel This Way. Showcasing the lower vocal range of bass player Ashley Hurst the track offers a chance in pace and sound. With clear influence from the 90s and a sprinkling of 80s pop thrown in the mix, Can’t Feel This Way is a great track to put at the halfway point to keep the listener interested.

The guitar is absolutely front and centre of this track and rightly so. It is definitely the most interesting element of Can’t Feel This Way and the guitar lick between sections is one that will for sure be stuck in your head for days following your initial listen to this track. 

At just two minutes long Get Over It is the shortest track on High and Low and Back Again. This, however, does not mean that it is not one of note. Get Over It is actually a stand out track for me. 

A predictable chorus melody makes this track catchy. However, a predictable chorus is not always a bad thing. Sometimes we find ourselves wanting to be given something we expect and here it works in Fendahlenes favour. The predictable chorus and shortness of the song makes Get Over It one of the best tracks on the album purely for its memorability.  

Dead and Gone is the longest track at five minutes. Surprisingly it is the slowest song on High and Low and Back Again with an acoustic guitar accompanying Paul Whiteley’s soft vocals. 

The mellow track brings the album full circle by referencing to the “ones and zeros” mentioned in the opening track Burnt Out. This gives High and Low and Back Again a sense of resolution which makes for a satisfying ending to the release. The guitars and drums come to a crescendo to carry the end of Dead and Gone to land on a single sustained chord. The singular piano chord slowly fades to bring peace and balance to this high energy release.

Each track had a strong opening which makes any song on this album a difficult skip. It feels like the drumbeat was a constant throughout the entire album and that it was never going to end even when the album came to its conclusion. If you are a fan of alternative rock and are feeling nostalgic for the 90s then I more than recommend you give High and Low and Back Again a listen.

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