Sound — 10
On the follow up to their major label debut "Mister Asylum," Cape Cod-born and Brooklyn-raised rockers Highly Suspect took their drugged blues-rock and evolved it to a sound I believe was very natural to them. Like its predecessor, "The Boy Who Died Wolf" has the same attitude and badass production. Unlike album one, TBWDW expands on who Highly Suspect really are, and they are not just another blues-rock band and definitely not an indie band. Rather, TBWDW has hints of the hip-hop and electronic (evidenced in "My Name Is Human" and "Fuck What You Think") and easily more romantic ("Little One, "For Billy", and "Chicago"). But, even with a little change, the music still sounds fucking amazing. Johnny Stevens is still as soulful and powerful as a singer as he was on the previous album, and the backline of the Meyer twins holds it down while Johnny wails.
In regards to instruments, I would presume Johnny used his Strats and Tele through a Supro Thunderbolt and Fender Bassman with a variety of effects, while Rich (the bassist) used his Jazz and P-basses through Orange heads (couldn't tell ya what rig Ryan the drummer has tho).
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics, as with Mister Asylum, are very very well written and very very personal; only one song is a cover ("Send Me An Angel"). Much of the album addresses self-discovery, growth, and the loss of love and friends dear to the band. This is similar to their debut, which had a nice balance of darkness and light. The lead single, "My Name Is Human," discusses the self-discovery one experiences over time. Songs like "Little One" and "Chicago" address the ends of a relationship and Johnny's attitude towards it. Others like "Serotonia" and "Wolf" discuss the desire for growth along the journey of life and the need for change. There are a couple fun ones however, such as "Postres" (Spanish for desserts) and "Look Alive, Stay Alive"; the former has a very prominent QotSA-influence, whereas the latter (along with "Viper Strike") is in-your-face. The lyrics and music definitely are compliant with one another and flow extremely well together.
Overall Impression — 10
Overall, TBWDW is a very complete album. It has a great sound, great production, and a beautiful blend of songs. It has a song for all moods. With the rest of rock of 2016, I would argue it could easily be the best rock album of the year, as it has everything that's asked of in a rock album - musicianship, lyrics, and guitar solos (only half-joking). As far as the most impressive songs on the album, I personally have loved "Little One," and "Serotonia" since their releases, and have come to appreciate more and more "Wolf". What I love about the album is that it's a breath of fresh air. Juxtaposed with the current state of rock as a whole, Highly Suspect have, in my view, breathed new life into a genre many consider to be dying. They are not selling-out arenas, but they have brought back the attitude, partying, and most importantly the music, which a good hard listen to both albums will show. As for what I dislike...I wish the tracklist flowed better, but it's not bad.
I must admit, I didn't feel the album at first - I was expecting Mister Asylum 2.0 with a heavy opening riff like that album's title track. But the more I listened to TBWDW, I fell in love. I suggest everyone looking for a new band to get into should give this record a GOOD listen, as it will not dissapoint.