Review Summary: Better than Jackson Square, a home run.
Canadian bands have been slowly, but surely, dying off one-by-one. It sucks because there are actually quite a number of outstanding ones (Tragically Hip, Alexisonfire), but rarely do you ever hear of a good, enormously well-known Canadian band; especially nowadays, when the majority of current music is written after
the artists are done partying. Thankfully, the Arkells are back again with another wonderfully well-written and creative musical parade. With a spectacular single to climax the parade, along with a short-but-sweet 9 other tracks to add to the incredible mix, the band's sophomore album ends up becoming a phenomenal, and incredibly charming, one.
The Arkells released their debut album, Jackson Square, and it was great. Songs like "Oh, the Boss is Coming!", which was a successful hit on the radio, made the album stand out as something fresh and original. That said, they live up to their massive potential with this record, which kicks off with the extremely-catchy "Book Club"
. "'I like women and songs' and you said: 'it's from volume two'"
are some lyrics that tell the story of a woman named Matty who never stops reading and never remembers to listen. It's an interesting song because it tells you enough about this girl, whether she be real or fictional, so that you can create her visual in your mind; which the song expertly lures you into doing, with it's choice to end on the repeated, but subtly different, lines: "into some white shoes, or a blue collar / into your white shoes, or your blue collar". This is a song with a perfect beat and storytelling ability, which comes to reflect in the majority of the album's tracks.
transitions right in after the previous track and crackles with creative flair. Here, the lyrics are put into the background of the song and taking over centre stage is the marvellous instrumental sounds that the Arkells are willing to bring to the forefront in an album that is supposed to introduce them to a wider audience (which I hope it will). The album, although well-written, does not follow the same repetition again-and-again as you might expect right off the bat. In fact, it's hard to really relate one song to another one. "On Paper"
is open-minded and charming, "Kiss Cam"
is honest and charming...
Okay, the album is charming. I'm not quite sure if this a negative or not, but listeners always have their own personal down times
once in a while, right? Of course we do. If anything, don't listen to the album if you're not in the mood for something completely refreshing and original. I know that sounds stupid, but... sometimes you don't always need music that's willing to flip YOUR switches? If you're that type of person, stay away from this album, if you so wish, the choice is yours.
Despite that, I just gotta come out and say that this is a tremendous effort by the Arkells. If anything, they've proven that they deserve the potential that everyone who knows them expects of them. "Just a little bit of faith is what I want / It's what I need / In my institutions / So I wait / So patiently" introduces us to the phenomenal "Whistleblower"
which is simply just one of a kind. It's such a simple premise, idea, concept, execution that it's able to win you over immediately. I ask myself if this is about a referee simply calling a sports game or exploiting a sports game for being something else entirely... I don't know. Whatever it is, decide on it; because that's the kind of idea that makes an album like this work.