Nov 19, 2021
By Caleb Campbell
This year, L.A.-based artist, composer, and producer James The Fifth has been sharing singles from his upcoming full-length debut, Days of Wine. The record is the follow-up to his 2017 debut EP, San Narcisco, and comes after a string of singles in the intervening years, including “Television and “Blondie.”. James shared “Love Life” last month, along with its exceedingly bloody video, and today he’s back with his latest single, “One Lonely High,” premiering with Under the Radar.
On “One Lonely High” James The Fifth dips into dizzying psych pop, with his dreamy vocals drifting aimlessly above twinkling keys and a pulsing funk bassline. The psychedelic haze steadily becomes all the more impenetrable as intricate layers of instrumentation overlap into a carefully constructed mania, turning the song’s daydream into an anxious nightmare. Yet, the titular high is not narcotic or psychedelic but was instead inspired by the soul-sucking mundanity of working your average 9-5 job.
As James The Fifth explains, “‘One Lonely High’ describes a period of ennui and listlessness I had while working a dystopian, hyper-corporate office job in 2018. For several months, I was a copywriter for a major steel company on the top (52nd) floor of a high rise in downtown Los Angeles. After the initial novelty wore off, I became increasingly alienated from my coworkers and the nature of the work I was doing. One day, right before a Dodger playoff game, military jets flew over Dodger Stadium and broke the sound barrier as they passed, and I felt the entire building shake in their wake. For a brief second, it was unclear what the source of the sound was, and it felt nearly like an incoming terrorist attack, as I sat alone at my desk on the top floor of this building at 5:00 pm. ‘One Lonely High’ is not about a drug high, but instead about being literally, physically high in the air in this strange and absurd reality.”
Check out the song below and watch for James the Fifth’s debut record, Days of Wine, coming soon.