JANUARY 14, 2022
WRITTEN BY AMARA SOROSIAK
WRITTEN BY AMARA SOROSIAK
HIGHNOON KICKS OFF NEW ERA WITH "BACK TO YOU"
The music community has been slapping the term “dream” onto different genres for quite some time now; dream-pop, dream-rock, the list goes on. The label is meant to capture the out-of-body, whimsical sensibility of an artist’s music, as the sound resonates with our subconscious, often tranquil state of mind. “Dream” genres have blown up in the past few years, especially in indie circles, and riding that dream-pop wave into the new year is Highnoon with their premiere single “Back To You.” The Philadelphia group returned to the scene with their first release following 2019’s Semi Sweet, and with it, a slew of growth as a unit. Vocalist Kennedy Freeman, alongside Brendan Simpson (Lead Guitar, Keys), Nathan Avila (Bass), and Justin Roth (Drums), used the lockdown period in early 2020 to experiment with new sounds and gear, and faced the challenge of composing new material asynchronously. Their combined efforts resulted in “Back To You,” a multidimensional single that incorporates dream-pop nuances, yet a wealth of energy surpassing the genre’s usual tranquility.
The song begins with a stripped-down, acoustic guitar as Freeman alludes to what’s to come with their infectious, melodic vocals. Soon after, bouncy drums kick in, with a beat that intertwines with the established vocals. The chorus is simple yet effective, featuring ample, wordless harmonies that provide a sense of peace, or more accurately, a daydreaming sensation. This is Kennedy Freeman’s vision for the song fully realized, as they’re quoted saying “I want my songs to sound like all the different parts of me: the part of me that loves rock and guitar pop, and the part of me that would stare out the window daydreaming to ‘Just My Imagination’ by the Temptations.
I want to make music that feels like escape and release, that feels like dreaming itself.” “Back To You” wears all of Freeman’s influences on its sleeve, with the song’s guitars embodying quintessential guitar-pop, as they’re light on the ear yet add to the song’s punchiness. What discerns this song from its musical peers, though, is how much each individual element swells as the song progresses. Unfolding after a twinkling key progression, Freeman’s vocals erupt into the bridge, supported by amplified guitars and crashing cymbals, until the vocals ultimately fade out and leave the guitars and drums in the spotlight.
Highnoon have also dropped an animated music video to accompany “Back To You.” The video is reminiscent of children’s book illustrations, with its characters and settings sporting solid, bright color palettes, and an abstract art style reminiscent of Dr. Seuss and Lois Elhert. The stylistic choices build on the song’s “daydreaming” schema, now introducing the wholesome, yet nonsensical angle to the act. Despite the wondrous setting, the video’s main character wears a neutral expression for its entire runtime, and is often seen lounging on the couch watching TV which sometimes displays those very abstract settings. In tandem with the lyrical content, the video comments on unspoken desire, or wanting more from a relationship and life in general: “I wanna be the one that you touch / Don’t want to focus on it too much.” Playing off of the song’s crux, the video’s main character is seen following around a ghostly figure, which may represent the idealized version of a relationship this character wants to have with another person, or an idealized version of this character themself that they’re chasing.