Arm’s Way begins with a slow exhale: 40 seconds of wispy vocals, splashing cymbals and tremolo strings breathing and blending into a prelude crescendo that accumulates and inevitably explodes, lungs burning and blurting outward in a miasmatic haze of lost disco orchestration and dance punk electric guitar. The jovially macabre lyrics, infusing humor into the darkest tangles of human existence, dangle the object of our narrator’s affection over the crumbling edge of death, “like a lifeless corpse in a bad-ass car crash.” The song cumulates with the confession, “You’re mine, you’re mine / Is that why I lied when I told you you were breathing?” allowing the listener the privileged vantage point from which to see that our narrator’s conversation has always been one-way, in effect a self-delusion in the face of a tragic loss.
“Pieces of You” continues the motif of inciting visceral distress (scattered bones, hemorrhaging capillaries, poked sockets, etc…) over distended fantastical musical combinations. “Creeper” slices up a Dario Argento slasher narrative with slinky beatbox tangles and a throwback sound that could have originated as a mid-nineties mutant radio hit. The willowy guitar threads and evaporating late-night blues of “Life In Jail” provides the album with it’s most endearing soft spot and “We Swim” perfectly bridges Radiohead-style rock with schizo prog and a pinch of twisted brit pop theatrics. “Kids Don’t Know Shit” is the album’s central anthem, uplifting (and ironic) tweaking strings and frozen chunk powerchords float and pummel Nick Thorburn’s hovering, creaky vocal attack as he lets the kids know their brains are working harder than their hearts. This ex-Unicorns lead man and his crew are taking no prisoners on this solid, weird, stellar album as they bust out of the indie rock isolation unit and into mainstream rock canon.
Favorite Track: “Kids Don’t Know Shit”