In the before-times of 2019, Scottish nineties alt-pop outfit Texas were tasked with making yet another one of those deluxe edition re-releases that music labels love so much. But after diving into their vaults, they decided to do one better and use that material for a whole new record, even adding more during the pandemic. Thus, comes the stuffed and diverse Hi.
When talking about diversity on Hi, one has to start with the title track (QRO review), which the band upped by bringing in none other than the Wu-Tang Clan. The unusual pairing dates back to the late nineties, when the rappers and Scots remade Texas’ hit “Say What You Want”, and a current documentary on that meeting of the musical minds led to Wu-Tang jumping into “Hi”, remaking that piece with rhymes that work perfectly over the sultry road original. The original Texas-only “Hi” is included on the album of the same name as well, nicely relaxed, even if in the shadow of the collaboration version.
There are some more country pieces on Hi, but rather than the straighter country of Texas’ 2013 The Conversation (QRO review), the road is haunted by outlaws akin to Ennio Morricone on songs like “Hi” (both of them), “Just Want To Be Liked”, and the wry “Moonstar”. But there’s also Texas’ alt-pop ways, like the big opener/single “Mr. Haze”, derived from an unfinished piece from the old days and sounding like that era of Texas, the catchy synth-sad “Look What You’ve Done”, while the pop-gallop of “Sound of My Voice” marries the road and the pop. And Texas haven’t forgotten their heartbreak either, frontwoman Sharleen Spiteri (QRO interview) heartfelt but world-wise on “Had a Hard Day”, yet a smoother downcast with “You Can Call Me”.
At fourteen tracks, Hi is a bit overloaded, with a few simpler sway pieces like “Heaven Knows” and closer “Had to Leave” perhaps not necessary. But everything’s bigger, and better, with Texas.