Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Premiere: The High Divers’ “Suddenly Naked”

October 1, 2015

It seems that rock’n’roll and lust are inseparably intertwined (the term “rock’n’roll” was originally a bawdy phrase, for example). With a name like “Suddenly Naked,” it would be easy to imagine that The High Divers‘ roots rock tune was the latest in a long line of seduction tunes. Hold on to your hats: it’s actually the opposite.

Yep, this one is an anti-lust jam: “Trying to resist you / when suddenly you’re naked on the floor / begging me to kiss you / I don’t want you anymore.” Is it a relationship gone sour? Is it an uneven friendship, where the expectations have become widely disparate? Is it something even more complicated? The lyrics before the crux of the tune don’t overdetermine it, which works great in the context of the song’s intriguing sound and structure.

The High Divers’ sound is generally an energetic vintage-inflected indie-pop-rock party, but this tune sees them getting more pensive (as is appropriate to the lyrics). The song builds from mumbly, dejected quietness at the beginning to a high point of sonic outrage midway through and out through a long instrumental section that closes the tune. The walking-speed tune has some vintage guitar moments right at the high point of the song: the guitar strumming snaps to attention in a decidedly old-school way. But it never feels “retro”–it feels like The High Divers have integrated tons of sounds into their own unique brew.

To that end, there’s also some serious soul vibes going on in the vocals of the central section, right in there with St. Paul and the Broken Bones and Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. But the rest of the tune feeds more on the roots-rock template with some gentle psych keys thrown on top of it: this is a gritty sort of vibe without getting too abrasive in the overall mood. (It helps to keep the keys high in the mix during the long instrumnetal section/outro.) It’s a subtly complex tune–there’s no verse/chorus/verse structure to lead the listener. Instead, the shifting melodies are the only guide. It’s an excellent tune that begs you to play it again.

This fascinating tune comes off The High Divers‘ debut album Riverlust, which drops 10/9 on Hearts and Plugs.

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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