At first glance, KROWNS’ debut single ‘High While The Whole World Ends’ (‘High’) is just another overproduced pop song. But, sit back on a rooftop at 2 am with this idiosyncratic anti-conformity anthem, and you’ve got a genre-defying track that fits trap, pop, alternative and electronic music into a four-minute single.
‘High’ begins with a gentle electronic opening, a backing track of whistling that reminds us of Twenty One Pilots and a psych-rock sensibility of the likes of Pixies. But the first verse takes on a much darker affection, mirroring the James Bond theme of the cover artwork. Singer, Kyle Mckearny, croons ‘trying to build a life with broken parts/trying to hold on tight with a stitched-up heart,’ before casually referencing themes of anarchy, lost dreams, and misdirection. The band isn’t holding back with modern day themes, commonly being addressed across the board in pop music at the moment. This is especially reminiscent of The 1975’s work, mirrored and accentuated in the modulated vocals where the pitch is electronically shifted up. The track itself is built around the trap high hat, bringing another genre into the mix. Sparse production is omnipresent in the chorus, which mainly consists of the trap beat and vocal production.
‘High’ is intersected by an instrumentally emphasized rap that seems out of place against the passionate, sinuous vocals – but perhaps is another step towards blurring genre lines that could be more welcome in a live performance. KROWNS have stated that they hope to ‘empower their audience to live authentically and be triumphant in their own way.’ This song is definitely a call to arms, and its transcendence of pop boundaries is an inspiring tribute to not being held down by conformity, as the track suggests.
Perhaps this mix of influences is due to the work of Grammy award-winning producer Stephen Kozmeniuk who produced ‘High’ with the Canadian three-piece, or perhaps it’s due to the influx of artists with a lot to say and enough talent to say it in whichever art form they like. Does it work? Give the song a listen and make your own mind up.
You can stream ‘High While The World Ends’ here.