Reviewed by: Ziggy Merritt
Coming from Omaha, Nebraska, the Fink sisters haven’t always found the path forward to be so readily transparent. Christine Fink moved to Omaha a number of years ago to be closer to her sister Orenda, herself a practiced singer-songwriter perhaps best known as one half of the dream pop duo, Azure Ray. Hooked on the overwhelming power of her sister Christine’s vocals, Orenda convinced her to collaborate, forming what would become High Up. Their self-titled debut is the culmination of that passion project, combining a range of influences from blues to punk rock in an almost autobiographical setting.
Coming from a place of emotional highs and lows, Christine’s voice brims with bright, bluesy confidence. Nowhere is this more on point than the EPs noteworthy single, “Two Weeks.” Opening with soulful brass and percussion, the track expands on the background of the Fink sisters’ journey to a more fulfilling if uncertain existence. The narrative that Orenda describes here and throughout the EP depicts the growing agency of a singer breaking away from the perceived safety of unsteady, minimum wage employment for a chance at something risky yet purely cathartic. It invokes a vital punk edge that feels at home next to the album’s eclectic textures.
Yet while never lacking in lyrical intensity, the rest of the EP doesn’t quite reach the lofty heights of that propulsive lead. “Your System Failed You” manages to come very close, providing an almost upbeat tone complemented by lyrics that act as a righteous comeuppance against those taking advantage of civil and financial inequities: “If we’re all equal, well/You’re more equal than me” sings Christine. But if anything the truly stunning part of High Up’s debut is its ability to bring disparate sonic elements together into a cohesive whole greater than the sum of its parts. Not only this but Orenda’s sharp-witted songwriting chops tap into the anxieties born out of the modern political and economic landscape all of which is given voice via the powerful and nuanced vocals of her sister. High Up belt out this reflective uncertainty, seemingly breaking up a cycle of aimlessness into something vibrant and true to themselves.