In The Weeknd’s “The Hills,” his sinister Wes Craven inspired hook (“Hills have eyes, the hills have eyes/Who are you to judge, who are you to judge?”) encapsulates the harsh stare of the fame obsessed city of Los Angeles. Despite it’s sunny disposition, LA is a town that will take you in and spit you back out in the blink of an eye. It’s geographically beautiful yet rich with squalor. For Vancouver pop star Nicholas Krgovich, the duality of the City of Angels, is so intriguing that he created an LA inspired album trilogy, which comes to a close with The Hills.
The Hills, like its predecessors On Cahuenga (2015) and On Sunset (2014), moves to smooth, R&B-flavoured, pop. It makes you dance by yourself (“Mountain of Song”), grab your partner – or maybe a stranger – and slow dance (“The Hills II”), laugh a little (“Out of Work Jazz Singer”) and cry a lot (“The Hills I,” “Sunset Tower”). The album, mirroring its title, is full of its own dizzying hills of heartbreak and salvation.
In “Place Goes Quiet” and “Out of Work Jazz Singer,” Krgovich masks his woeful tales with infectious and playful grooves. The 80s-pop throwback vibe of “The Place Goes Quiet” softens the lyric’s retelling of an awkward exchange while the strutting bass line and saucy mix of horns in “Out of Work Jazz Singer” combats the loneliness of the jazz singer in question.
Scattered throughout the album are condensed and remixed tracks that appeared on both On Cahuenga and On Sunset. “Backlot Detail,” “Rock’s Detail,” “PCH Detail,” and “Moon’s Detail,” are luxurious and cinematic. These four tracks, as if movie magic trickled out into the streets of LA to make slo-mo a reality, decelerate the album and allow for Krgovich, and the album’s many players, to reflect and refocus.
Album highlight “Sunset Tower,” as I previously described, is a soulful waltz but it’s also one of the best pop songs I’ve heard this year. With the Sunset Tower Hotel as his backdrop, Krgovich’s voice moves from a grief-stricken growl to a falsetto punctuated by anguish from deep in his “dark heart” and describes what it is like to be isolated in a city of millions.
The Hills is a superb finale to Nicholas Krgovich’s dazzling LA trilogy. Save yourself the airfare, buy the trilogy, and experience tinseltown through Krgovich’s eyes.
Top Tracks: “Sunset Tower”; “Out of Work Jazz Singer”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)