Album Reviews

HIGH HØØPS– Seasons on Planet Earth (A Label Called Success)

Sam Smith

As far as teasing fans go, no one is quite as good at it as Royal Oak electronic musician Jordan Arts. Formerly of synthpop duo Kids of 88 and now with supergroup Leisure, Arts has been drip-feeding music under the name HIGH HØØPS for over five years. Songs have usually come as one-off singles leaving fans eagerly awaiting news that he would drop an album’s length worth of material. Finally, that moment has come, with Arts debut HIGH HØØPS album Seasons On Planet Earth.

With HIGH HØØPS, Arts makes electro-pop-based music in what I would describe as a fusion style. His inspiration largely comes from 70s, 80s, and 90s R&B, funk, soul, and dance-pop which he then mixes together to create what is quite a contemporary heavy groove-based style of electronic music. Some would even call it alternative R&B.

It is this style then which dominates Seasons On Planet Earth, an album which is packed to the rims with jams that are bound to get you boogie-ing this summer season.

The album starts off with the quick pace of People, a track which sounds like it would have fitted perfectly alongside the headline acts of the 90s big beat scene, think Basement Jaxx and the Chemical Brothers. This is then followed by the tropical hazy groove of Madly and the dance-pop of Body.

After an energetic and beat-heavy start to the album, Arts then takes it down a notch tempo-wise with the slower but still sexy grooves of Can I Get Love? This is a song that could easily be seen as the comedown after the massive high of the previous tracks, all be it the best comedown one could ever have.

This downtempo style continues into the middle of the album with the summer soul of Blue Eyes where Arts show off his falsetto and Dangerous featuring Alabama rapper Maesu before he takes things up a notch tempo-wise again with an absolute banger of a track in the form of album single Steady Rolling. This for mine is one of the best tracks Arts has ever put out as HIGH HØØPS and contains one of the funkiest grooves you are likely to hear all year. An absolute dancefloor killer if ever there was one.

After the electronic-heavy Heat Wave, an old song in the HIGH HØØPS cannon, Arts then changed things up again stylistically with the R&B-infused Dreaming, a song that combined soulful vocal hooks with electronic production wizardry. This was a good point in proceedings to be reminded that Arts produced, played all the instruments, and sang all the vocals on the album. No mean feat at all.

The album then wound down like it started with a massive burst of beat-heavy production in the form of the crisp Burn It Up, a track that contains a spectacularly good drop, and then, finally, Love On Repeat, a spacey, poppy affair with a catchy as hell chorus.

With Seasons On Planet Earth, Arts has managed to deliver a stylistically varied and well-constructed album that captures the essence of what he has been striving for over the last five or so years as HIGH HØØPS. The production on here is world class in places, while vocally he shines throughout, even surprising in places with a few tricks this reviewer did not think he had, namely that high falsetto.

Hopefully, this is just the start for Arts in terms of albums with his HIGH HØØPS project because the blueprint is clearly here with Seasons On Planet Earth for him to expand on and continue into the future to provide tunes that make for a perfect summer nights soundtrack.

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Released: 21 Sep 2018

Written By: Sam Smith When he is not writing for Radio 13 Sam works in media and journalism at 95bFM radio and the University of Auckland. He also has is own personal music blog Nowhere Bros.