After a three-year silence, one of 2000’s rock loudest and most recognized voices returned. Highly Suspect released an album which is a confident step towards their personal evolution and development. MCID proofs to be creative, experimental, genre-bending, highly emotional, very personal, and probably Highly Suspect’s best record yet.
Old photo, I know, but still class.
After the release of 2016’s The Boy Who Died Wolf –very ambitious and overall a great album – I found it quite worrisome that Highly Suspect simply disappeared.
But sometimes artists need to do it, they need to take a break, fight their own battles and return to the right mental state. Now, three years later, it is beyond clear that Highly Suspect used this time wisely to mature, grow, and heal.
MCID – My Crew Is Dope, in case you were wondering what the acronym stands for, is the most personal, intimate, and emotional album by the band. It captures troubles, journeys, reflections, and learned lessons quite well and has powerful and inspirational elements which, I believe, will have even more impact than the early 2000’s classic rock anthems Highly Suspect produced.
The band’s return was one done well. I have to admit I had my doubts after their disappearance and rumors surrounding Johnny Stevens and his bad habits. I approached the alum skeptically but I was happy to discover that the more I replayed it, the more it grew on me.
MCID is a refreshing next step for Highly Suspect. A step away from pure rock influences and an exploration of a diverse range of other styles merged with the trademarked sound of the band.
Hip-hop elements, blues, heavy metal, alternative, jazz – it is all part of MCID which is well showcased by beautiful collabs.
Young Thug makes an appearance in Tokyo Ghoul (one of the many songs featuring anime references) and blends well with Johnny’s rapid-fire rap verses.
The song is one of the many personal tracks on the album, however, it takes things on a bigger scale and includes socio-political aspects to manifest the great message that art is freedom and it will always be this way.
The Highly Suspect frontman has stated several times that hip-hop is something he is inspired by and something he wants to incorporate in his music. It is a great pleasure to finally see him do it and involve other artists in the act. The result is solid – the fast-paced verses fit perfectly well with the aggressive instrumentals and bold statements about the current state of society.
Gojira’s Joe Duplantier is another interesting feature displaying hellish screams in SOS.
The first time I heard the song I really disliked it and I didn’t think the energies fit well but after a few replays, I definitely can see the idea behind it. It’s another tap into a different genre and a troubling state of mind which lets listeners get a taste of some haunting thoughts. And Joe’s screams are the best way to approach this topic without a doubt.
Connor Mason from Nothing But Thieves also makes an appearance in @tddybear. A song which is simply a dream collaboration.
I have always associated the style of Highly Suspect with the British rock legends and the track just proved how well they work together.
To make it better the song is one of the most emotional ones on the album and displays a tragic love story and its side-effects to perfection.
MCID is rich in terms of exploring personal issues and traumas. Since the very beginning Fly (a strong start of the album, by the way) takes a confessional note and boldly talks about depression and mental health issues going to the extreme.
This album is by far the realest admissions of self-observation I’ve ever written and it’s scary to let people know about my life.
The interesting structure of the song shifts its focus from Johnny talking to himself and turning to listeners with the hope to encourage and support anyone struggling with the same problems. Switching between desperation and faith the song is a powerful start and an accurate representation of the dangers of depression.
Upperdrugs, Snow White, These Days and Taking Off also dwell on the subjects of mental well-being, drug abuse, and bad habits. All of the songs touch on different aspects of those things and have a different type of sound to them including the so desired by many fans classic Highly Suspect rock vibes.
But when it comes to emotionally touching songs mental health is not the only topic explored. A lot of the songs on MCID talk about love-related struggles and the consequences of broken relationships.
One such song is 16 which I believe is one of the strongest on the record. It is a highly emotional tale about the 7 years relationship Johnny had with his ex-partner which culminates with a heartbreaking event and a tear-jerking conclusion.
Track number 10 – Arizona has a similar effect. It adds blues elements to the rock instrumentals to create a new type of melody which brings out the rawness of the feelings described.
Freakstreet breaks away from the above-mentioned highly emotional ballad-like pieces which focus on regret and uneasiness. The 3rd track on the album celebrates stepping away from a person who cannot accept you and encourages listeners to stay true to themselves no matter what.
It is also another song with hip-hop elements as well as electronic music influences which turns into another unique addition to MCID.
The political aspect is not overlooked as well. Canals and The Silk Road touch on the apathy and absolute madness our society has grown to accept as normal.
The songs express concern and make aggressive remarks towards the ridiculousness of those self-destructive tendencies which have taken over our world. One uses trippy vibes and beats to underline the phenomenon and the other relies on the classic old-school electrifying rock to make its point.
MCID doesn’t lack well-constructed instrumental interludes. The first one being Tetsuo’s Bike at track number 6 followed by the sensual and elevated Juzo creating a well-working transition between Arizona’s blues-rock and The Silk Road’s trippy electronics.
The album ends with an outro working perfectly well for a closing of the great album – Nairobi. It is relaxing yet progressive and gently helps subdue the whirlwind of feelings MCID invokes.
Highly Suspect’s third studio album is an incredibly well-working combination of topics and music styles. The fusion which MCID consists of is a rapid leap forward for the band and the best return they could have made.
I am personally extremely happy to see the band tapping into different genres of music while still keeping their trademarked rock vibes awake. I think stepping a bit away from the strictly rock-oriented influences makes the album exciting and prevents it from getting repetitive.
In its essence, MCID is a statement and a declaration. Something a lot of people need to hear for one reason or another.
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