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The High Dials
A NEW DEVOTION
(Rainbow Quartz)
Stars graphics

Montrealís the High Dials are your all-purpose, mid-í60s, retro-pop quartet. Not only do they nail the soaring three-part vocal harmonies the Byrds were so famous for (particularly on the somber "Leaving Alphaville"), they also know their way around the instrumental arrangements and tonal qualities that made singles from that era sound so great. Thereís the infectiously chiming Rickenbacker riff that leads into the verses of "Diamonds in the Dark"; thereís the way guitarists Robbie MacArthur and Trevor Anderson (Trevorís also the bandís lead singer and main songwriter) slash chords against the McCartney-esque walking-bass lines of Rishi Dhirís round-toned instrument in "Silas, Please Come Home." For the most part, the group benefit from their reverence for the past: "The Dead Hand" is a pleasantly sly nod in the direction of some of Ray Daviesís best Kinks material, and Dhirís sitar-based instrumental "Things Are Getting Better" (which includes a Far EastĖleaning psychedelic freak-out, complete with tabla and flute) works equally well. But when the Dials attempt the faux Victorian "Can You Hear the Bells?" with a harpsichord-laced arrangement, they begin to sound like a parody of themselves ó or perhaps the aural equivalent of an Austin Powers flick. Fortunately, such missteps are few and far between.

BY NED HAMMAD


Issue Date: December 5 - 11, 2003
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