“High Like This,” the new wicked good single from Avatari, is essentially built like a conventional pop song, but it’s missing one key component found in almost every one of the genre’s mainstream releases to hit the FM dial in the past three years – aesthetical arrogance.
Avatari isn’t showboating with some rough-edged hybridity here, and I don’t get the feeling he wants a lot of recognition for being experimental in the way he’s marrying his words with the luster of the musicality behind them. There’s not a spot of self-righteousness for us to get past; he’s rejecting the drone of surreal pop and going old school with a hook-centric concept in this piece that affords him a chance to demonstrate his unfiltered abilities more than anything else. he could just as easily have incorporated a thick backend and a pointlessly heavy harmony in this setting, but he skewed minimalism with a blatant desire to give us feel-good harmonies, and for a critic like myself this makes his one of the more intelligent offerings to have come up for review in March thus far.
From the very moment he steps up to the microphone forward, it’s more than a little obvious that Avatari is putting everything he’s got into this lead vocal, starting with a soulfulness that alludes to the lyrics’ authenticity like nothing else could have. The percussion spots him some anxious rhythm in more than a couple of important spots between the starting line and the first chorus, and its brittle tone seems deliberately contrasting with his singing prowess.
The instrumental melodies are always left in a rather clandestine role as we move from one moment to the next in “High Like This,” with it becoming clearer and clearer in each passing moment just how much of a singer’s showcase this single was intended to be. Time, love, and an intimate knowledge of the emotion in the verses all went into making it as perfect as possible, and even if I hadn’t heard his work before this moment, I would still be encouraging Avatari to stick with this career after hearing what he can do in this song.
It doesn’t take a lot to transform from a critics’ favorite to a legitimate power player in this game when you’re working with the kind of skillset this artist is, and in “High Like This,” Avatari reveals himself to be a rising star many underestimated with the release of his first few singles to get a lot of attention from the press.
I think he needs to get on the live stage to continue honing his abilities and getting as sharp and focused in his attack as possible, but in the meantime between now and the moment we’re allowed to return to concerts once more, this recording should stand as firm evidence indicating both Avatari’s legitimacy as a singer/songwriter and his potential as an indie act that isn’t solely dependent on riding the wake of larger trends in the industry when it comes to making a big impact.