Faced with the perils of an isolating world, High Flying Man reignites the tradition of great American songwriting, speaking in the voice of the longing masses. At heart, Berry demands more life, rejecting both arty cynicism and nostalgic escapism.
It’s the third album for Matt Berry’s pseudo-eponymous project. Loss and desire take center stage as Berry delves deep into 21st century malaise, crafting densely layered songs which project an unshakable yearning for deliverance from the world’s shortcomings. Each track extends an outstretched palm towards universal connection, blending a complex mix of pop hooks, rock swagger, and psychedelia into dejected populist anthems.
On his lead single “Prime”, released today, Berry channels the simple pop mastery of Lindsay Buckingham. Getting older, I’m getting older, he restlessly croons as he takes jabs at the moral laziness of aging millennials, expressing his yearning for a return to vitality and conviction.
High Flying Man follows The Berries’ previous releases, 2018’s Start All Over Again and 2019’s Berryland. While longtime listeners will undoubtedly recognize Berry’s disaffected drawl and melodic sensibility, High Flying Man’s complex arrangements and expansive sonic landscape place it well apart from its predecessors. Berry enlisted live band members Danny Paul (drums), Emma Danner (backing vocals), and Lance Umble (bass) during the recording of High Flying Man, as well as the mixing talents of Rob Schnapf (Elliott Smith, Beck, Guided by Voices), breaking from the self-produced home recording ethos of the previous Berries LPs. The collaborative nature of High Flying Man’s recording process is reflected in the quality of each song’s arrangement. Freed from the pressure of being individually responsible for every detail committed to tape, Berry was able to focus his attention more fully on the creative demands of constructing a dynamic and cohesive record. High Flying Man pivots away from any sort of obvious nod to Americana tropes, baggy British attitude, or Neil Young-esque riffing, leaning head on into a lush, idiosyncratic grandeur.
With High Flying Man, Berry embraces undying love in the face of isolation. Daring to want more life becomes a spiritual rallying cry against a world that has failed to make life either meaningful or beautiful. At their core, these songs are not about revolution, but they are about the faith that gives something like revolution a purpose in the first place.
Photo Courtesy: Lucy Sandler