Even with two full-length records and an EP, this is the first time Javelin have recorded in a studio. George Langford and Tom Van Buskirk have been recording bedroom-style, but making music far more danceable than the stuff usually associated with bedroom producers. 2009's Jamz n Jemz introduced us to the collage of samples and beats that would be their signature style through 2010's No Mas and the 2011 Canyon Candy EP.
So it's a pleasant surprise that the material on Hi Beams sounds more fully-formed and melodious. Even the sparse boom-snap beat and robo-alien vocals of "Nnormal" (no, that's not a typo) sound more like a song than a collection of influences. That's not to say that the genre jumping isn't still there. The horns on "Judgement Day" sound like the "'80s horns" setting on your keyboard, and accompanied by the big guitar hits, it could be a movie training-montage song. Then it's on to "Airfield" and a modernized funk groove, or the grand electro-pop of "Friending" that almost, but not quite, feels like Passion Pit.
The difference this time around is that you have half a minute to latch onto the grooves, beats, melodies, any kind of musical idea. The old stuff was fun for its twitchiness, but this is engaging because the songs are complete thoughts. The move into a studio seems to have honed the playfulness without squashing it. There are breathers from the sample-chaos. "City Pals," with it's cheery charm, even settles down to just vocals and piano for a little bit.
Hi Beams is like your wild college friend who finally calmed down and found some direction. Part of you is bound to miss the craziness, but it's good to see her chill out and pull her shit together.