Knox Hamilton – The Heights


Let me get this out of the way early – Knox Hamilton’s The Heights sets the Album of the Year bar extremely high for all other artists to follow in 2017.

The debut full-length album from this Little Rock trio – due out March 10th via Prospect Park Records – surprised me with two things right off the bat. First, its length. With 13 tracks and a run-time north of 42 minutes, this album has a long reach and keeps your attention from one song to the next. And second, this song progression is effortless; allowing the listener complete agency to enjoy the album at his or her own pace. The Heights never rushes you along, it simply plays, one song at a time, for you.

Take the first three tracks for example – “We Get Back”, “Washed Up Together”, and “Set It On Fire” – each one different from the last, yet when listened to together tell you everything you need to know about Knox Hamilton: catchy guitar riffs, irresistibly dancey keys, and a vocal range that rises and falls at a moment’s notice. “Washed Up Together” helped to announce Knox Hamilton onto the national music scene with a, shall we say, unconventional music video that had the likes of Katy Perry chiming in. But something happens here that I wasn’t at all expecting – the song is better without the video. When paired alongside the remainder of The Heights, “Washed Up Together” is elevated by its composition and Twelfth Night-like thematic lyricism. The video is fun and quirky and anxiety-inducing all at the same time, but the visual spectacle can’t help but distract from a truly exceptional song.

Other standouts include “Call Me Up”, which features a delicious little guitar riff underneath the post-chorus/next verse transition (trust me, you’ll know it when you hear it), The Killers-inspired “Work It Out”, and, of course, their cover of The Association’s “Never My Love”, articulating the band’s creativity and gentle touch with an old favorite; but where this album really earns its keep is in the title track – also the album’s final entry – “The Heights”. The song starts off innocently enough with a simple three-chord guitar progression followed by the vocals, sung through the entire first movement before any other instruments join in. The lyrics are sweet and tender without being too saccharine and along with the simplified composition (compared to the 12 tracks that precede it, that is) are the perfect combination to close out an album that shows off the experience and maturity of a band that’s been making music together for a number of years.

Tonight our little apartment is a house in the heights
And its lit up so bright by your smile
And you’re my music and you’re my sound
And I don’t want to get used to not having you around
And I don’t want to get used to not having you around
“The Heights”

Throughout the course of preparing and writing this review I’ve probably listened to the album a good five or six times, and every time “The Heights” – and with it, The Heights – ends, I let out a contented sigh and smile, as I think back over this piece of art laid out before me and pause to ponder its conclusion. And then, often without thinking, I press play again.

(Photo Credit: Connor North Goad)

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Chief Of All The Things at Emo At Heart
Josh is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Emo At Heart.