Highly Suspect Remains Edgy on ‘The Boy Who Died Wolf’
Highly Suspect remain edgy and unapologetic on their highly anticipated sophomore album, The Boy Who Died Wolf.
Up-and-coming rock band Highly Suspect have been riding high. The band received two left-field Grammy nominations for their debut album, Mister Asylum. Led by their gives zero f*cks frontman Johnny Stevens, Highly Suspect are unapologetic and profane to the nth degree. After establishing their identity, the band returns with a highly anticipated sophomore album, The Boy Who Died Wolf. Overall, the results are #winning.
“My Name Is Human”
Standout “My Name is Human” kicks off The Boy Who Died Wolf magnificently. It featuring enigmatic opening production, which percolates into a truly dark quality. Throughout, “My Name Is Human” features a religiously skeptical message. Frontman Johnny Stevens delivers rhythmic vocals possessing a rap-sensibility without compromising rock. The lyrics are biting and the vocals are incredibly aggressive. The chorus – varied in a couple of instances – represents the best moment of “My Name Is Human”:
“I’m up off my knees, girl / I’m face to face with myself / and I know who I am / (Hello, my name is human) / I stole my power from the sun / I’m more than just a man / (no longer disillusioned).”
“Look Alive, Stay Alive” serves as a stark contrast to the opener. Stevens goes for the kill on this brief number, filled with fire and spunk. At just over two minutes in length, it’s an enjoyable, listen that doesn’t supplant the opener or its superb follow-up, “Little One.”
“Little One” comes from a place of pain and regret. Stevens conveys these emotions perfectly, delivering clear and gritty vocals. “Little One” features an excellent harmonic progression, established by guitar from the onset. Among the strongest moments is the powerful, heavy chorus:
“Hey, little one / I’m so scared of what this could have been / I know that today I lost my only friend / my little one.”
“For Billy” follows, picking up the pace and keeping the energy level on-point. Buzz single “Serotonia” is stronger, setting the tone initially for The Boy Who Died Wolf. Throughout, Stevens tackles maturation as an adult, character flaws (“I’m not that good of a person…”), and California. He raises eyebrows with a twenty-something-dude reference to masturbation, but is ultimately seeking progression:
“I wish that everyone I knew was dead / so that I’d never have to pick up the phone / I just wanna be naked / and masturbate all day at home.”
Aside from clever lyrics, an epic guitar solo shines.
“Postres” gives Highly Suspect another brief, but worthwhile number. Stevens sings in playful, unapologetic fashion throughout its course:
“I’m eating snacks, and chilling with babes / and I don’t really give a flying f*ck what you say / cause I’m high, yeah so high up…”
He contrasts thoughtlessness with thoughtfulness on “Send Me an Angel.” Somewhat out of character, Stevens eschews profanity, for once. “Send Me an Angel” is sound, but doesn’t supersede the crème de la crème – “My Name Is Human,” “Little One,” and “Serotonia” among them.
“Oh, you’re a racist / geez, that’s neat / get the f*ck up out my face with that shit…” “Viper Strike” is one of the more captivating songs from the album. Stevens essentially puts both middle fingers up to the narrow sighted – bigots and racists. Here, Stevens lets it rip, with the profanity flying freely:
“I see you clutching that cross pretty hard though / a lot of motherf*ckers are gay / like in a ‘hide your kids’ kind of way.”
“F.W.Y.T.” lives little to the imagination – obviously, it is an acronym for f*ck what you think. This is in line with Stevens’ brash, unapologetic approach. Substance is a minimum here – or is it?
“Dystopia / I have given up on you / f*ck what you think I knew, I knew.”
“Why am I f*cking up so bad? / what am I even doing?” That’s how boldly ballad “Chicago” initiates. Stevens’ voice is among its most expressive and gritty of the entire album, even given the slow tempo of the song. His potty mouth continues to dominate, whether he recollects “one night getting too f*cked up in the Hamptons at Tom’s” or simply when he “Flew your pretty ass to New York City.”
“Wolf” concludes The Boy Who Died Wolf intriguingly. Once more, Stevens comes over as a badass, showcasing tender and gritty vocal moments. Lyrically, he describes “Wolf” perfectly: “It’s not a question / this shit is real.” True.
All in all, Highly Suspect have crafted an enjoyable and respectable sophomore effort with The Boy Who Died Wolf. There are enough solid moments to please fans of the band and welcome some newbies. It’s imperfect, particularly when Highly Suspect indulges too much in profanity for substance, as well as flawed experimentation. Nonetheless, there’s more to be enthused about than not.
Gems: “My Name is Human,” “Little One,” “Serotonia” & “Viper”