December 14, 2011 - No Idea
High Dive are an indie-punk project comprised of singer/songwriter Toby Foster and two members of folk-punk superstars Defiance, Ohio. While their self-titled debut is nimble and playful, and runs just a little over 20 minutes, it has plenty of meaning. Foster's solo musings tend to center around the difficulties of being openly gay in Midwestern society, and High Dive's subject matter doesn't seem to stray far from those topics. The results are moments of hard-hitting realization, where upbeat jangle contrasts with truly heartbreaking lyrics. One such example: "Tennessee," which bests just about any other "It Gets Better"-type anthem. The guitars create more space than anywhere else on the album for Foster to bluntly narrate, "I don't kiss you at my parents' house when they are not asleep." By the end, the character Foster represents is feeling far more brave, declaring, "Maybe I should kiss you on the border of Georgia and Tennessee." Other highlights include the fussy aggression of the album's shortest track, "Hi, How Are You?" and the rambling, seemingly spontaneous cover of "I Think We're Alone Now" (originally by Tommy James & The Shondells, but popularized by Tiffany). The album's penultimate number, "Restless," with its tasteful piano and soft buildup, also provides last-minute evidence of just how graceful the band can be.
Sure, the trio's debut isn't really that musically groundbreaking, especially given the type of Mountain Goats-esque jams which Plan-It-X Records has been doling out to bike punks since the mid-'90s. But High Dive is catchy, likeable and full of tidy, Superchunk-ish pop-punk/indie-rock bits. Whether you're old enough to feel nostalgic about ’90s indie or young enough to have missed it entirely (and especially if you feel alienated in "traditional" society), this trio's debut is a worthwhile listen.