Mild High Club misses mark on third studio album


Mild High Club/Band-Camp

Mild High Club’s third studio album Going Going Gone (2021)

Ben Pease, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Alex Brettin may not be a name that jumps out to you right away, but he has received notable attention after his 2016 album Skiptracing and is the man behind the alias of Mild High Club. 

After studying jazz guitar at Chicago’s Columbia College he moved out to Los Angeles, beginning his psychedelic jazz-pop project Mild High Club. Brettin’s new record Going Going Gone consists of synths, talk of our dysfunctional society, and more synths. 

The title may as well be meaning the guitars are going going gone. Goodbye to the dreamy licks played in Skiptracing’s “Carry Me Back” or Timeline’s “Note To Self”. Brettin piles on the synths and boomy bass in Going Going Gone, leaving the listener with countless winces and scrunching of the brow. 

What is new about this record is that nothing seems to fit into place, maybe symbolizing his representation of society, maybe he purposefully makes everything as strange as can be? 

Whatever the case, when listening it seems as if Brettin grew bored halfway through recording a track and decided to go a completely different way… in the middle of the song. Switching pace, switching tempos, and switching genres render the listener lost, confused and a little disoriented. 

Track 2 “Dionysian State” is a taste of Brettins idea of the chaotic nature of the world right now. 

He sings, “We’re burning it down, I’m glad I’m not hanging around” and “Bye bye, I’ll be checking out.”

The song is as hectic as his depiction of society and not far from the rest of the album with frequent tempo and idea changes. 

Brettin proceeds to change directions altogether on track 3 “Trash Heap”, establishing a bossa nova sound, like a 1950’s jazz band using only Tame Impala gear. A shaker instead of the hi hat and bouncy piano chords complete the genre switch. The listener may feel compelled to double check to see if it’s even the same album. 

Synthesizer, synthesizer, synthesizer…

Brettin ditches his guitar and goes all in using the synthesizer. The keyboard seems never to leave Brettin’s side throughout the entire course of recording. 

The wobbly, chorusy electric guitar makes a single, quick appearance on “Waving”, which is assuring, especially after eleven straight tracks sounding like Brettin discovered a Juno-60 for the first time. 

Going Going Gone is essentially elevator jazz for stoners or maybe a dream of falling backwards infinitely in space. In Skiptracing and Timeline everything fits together, even when it doesn’t. With Going Going Gone… nothing fits, like a puzzle left out in the sun, warped so all the pieces don’t match up quite right. 

The album feels cramped and forced, as if made while late for work, or distracted doing the laundry. The previous two records are mellow and delicate, allowing the listener to relax and groove. Going Going Gone contradicts Brettin’s 70’s pop modus operandi, which may be an attempt at breaking out of his shell. His swing and miss pursuing a new style is not necessarily strike three, though he undoubtedly has work to do. 

Brettin has the creativity to craft and sculpt the sound he is aiming for. All he needs is a little time, melody, and a wobbly, chorusy electric guitar. 

Check out Mild High Club’s performance of hit song “Homage” at Drill: LA Festival