All The Luck In The World
A Blind Arcade


4.2
excellent

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
February 24th, 2018 | 116 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Eloquent, pristine, and occasionally powerful, A Blind Arcade reveals a band that is on the verge of making a statement.

If you’ve ever laid on the grass at night and watched clouds float underneath the moon, like apparitions passing through a stone wall, then you may have experienced a piece of A Blind Arcade. The same could be said if you have ever watched the sun rise from a tree-covered mountain top, catching glimpses of light as the rays slowly begin to reflect upon the dew-covered leaves. You see, there’s something distinctly natural about All The Luck In The World’s music, and it’s that rare kind of beauty that makes you wonder if all the stars aligned just for you to hear something so arresting, right here in this precise moment. A mere glance at the album’s gorgeous artwork serves as a sufficient preview of what to expect, and the music behind the curtain rarely disappoints. A Blind Arcade flows forth with acoustic fullness, rolling effortlessly atop a current of pristine picking and strumming that will have you feeling as though you’re standing right next to a pastoral stream, listening to the water lap up against each stone along the way. It offers up poetic melodies that experiment with time signatures and wintry effects to instill an absolutely breathtaking atmosphere, and one that never relents over the course of its dreamlike run time. It’s truly a record that ensnares the senses, and will leave you awestruck at how something so simple can sound so life-changing.

From the moment it begins, A Blind Arcade wraps you within its acoustical prowess and warm melodies with “Landmarks” – a track that features the closest thing that could be mistaken for a hook here. The verses gently overlay the music’s shimmering acoustic picking in a relatively threadbare instrumental canvas, which gives the drums an unanticipated sense of authority when they finally come rumbling in around the chorus’ second rendition. This kind of gradual build-up becomes a defining characteristic as the record wears on, as it never seems to be in too much of a hurry to peel away its instrumental layers. The band’s methodology pays dividends, as the littlest of twists – a swelling violin, a series of chimes, woodwinds – carry momentum altering weight given the relative minimalism of the record as a whole. Perhaps no better example could be cited than A Blind Arcade’s third track, “Golden October”, which is a microcosm of everything that’s enjoyable about the album. It commences with some simply strummed chords, introduces strings, slowly emphasizes the force of each drum beat, and eventually alters the vocal melody to rise and meet the intensity that the rest of the song has already arrived at. The way it all happens so subtly is a thing of beauty, and by the song’s final minute you’re totally spellbound. In a way that’s how A Blind Arcade functions on a macro scale as well. The aforementioned songs possess a quiet confidence; this splendor that, through restraint, feels elegant and classy. By the album’s final three songs, the emotion that was merely emanating from its beginning has erupted: the resplendent guitars of the six-minute “Into The Ocean”, the shouted/almost screamed final verses of “High Beams”, and the fervent string/percussion interplay of “Abhainn” all make you wonder where that kind of energy was all along. It might leave some of the earlier tracks feeling like missed opportunities, but they were the necessary building blocks that allowed A Blind Arcade to culminate in such a passionate, satisfying end.

As you can tell, this is a record that is easy to heap praise on. However, there are some key weaknesses that would need to be addressed before A Blind Arcade could be considered anything approaching flawless. All The Luck In The World obviously aren’t mainstream wunderkinds with million dollar studios at their disposal, so the production can at times cause A Blind Arcade to get in its own way. There’s no denying the overarching beauty of this record, but at the same time that beauty is pretty much the same all the way through. One could extrapolate aspects of any single track and scatter them throughout the album with little or no consequence to its overall flow. While that speaks volumes about the album’s prevailing atmosphere, there simply aren’t enough diverse ideas – either structurally or instrumentally – to span eleven unique songs. It’s as if some uplifting, passionate aura was tapped into and then written about in several different ways. Each song adds a small wrinkle to the formula, but they all leave you with the same general sensation. It’s an inspiring one at that, but it doesn’t necessarily grow with you throughout the listening experience. If All The Luck In The World could find a way to have all these breathtaking musical avenues arrive at different emotional destinations, they would open up a vast universe that goes well beyond the unique and stunning world that they’ve composed here.

All The Luck In The World have created one of the better folk/acoustic indie albums that you’ll likely listen to this year. Hailing from Ireland to very little public acclaim, they’ve now notched just their second full-length LP – so it’s unlikely that we’ve heard either the best or the last of this promising young outfit. A Blind Arcade should prove to be instrumental in their progression as a band. Their self-titled debut was an alluring venture into acoustic folk, but this expands their sonic palette noticeably and in ways that will begin to separate them from their contemporaries. A Blind Arcade shows success and growth in all the right places, and although it does possess a handful of shortcomings, they are the kinds of weaknesses that can be corrected with a little more experimentation. As it stands, A Blind Arcade is a gorgeous standalone album that feels like a splash of color on acoustic-folk’s grayscale current state of affairs. It’s creative, emotive, and most certainly welcome.




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user ratings (72)
Chart.
3.7
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
February 23rd 2018


28782 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2 | Sound Off

I'll probably like this way more than most of you, but it's worth at least a cursory listen for anyone here.

Digging: Exit North - Book of Romance and Dust

Papa Universe
February 23rd 2018


18626 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

So a hit then. Hype was all worth it, aye?

Digging: The Ocean - Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 23rd 2018


28782 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2 | Sound Off

It's not quite as good as I thought it had the potential to be (I was thinking 4.5 or maybe a classic), but it's still excellent. It's always hard to rate something you've been hyped for months for. I project a 3.4 avg or something on this site but it deserves better.

Gyromania
February 23rd 2018


26153 Comments


Hey it's your avatar!!!

MarsKid
February 23rd 2018


7806 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

That art is definitely gorgeous

Digging: Noise Trail Immersion - Symbology of Shelter

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 23rd 2018


28782 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2 | Sound Off

I was actually thinking of putting this in the 3.5-3.7 range because a lot of the album's midsection feels samey and none of it lives up to Landmarks or Golden October. But then those last three tracks hit and damn...just stunning stuff. Had to rate it at least a 4.

Anyone who has actually heard this, let me know what you think! This rounds out my first under the radar hype machine post. Still need to review Lo Moon and The Republic of Wolves for my second installment.

MarsKid
February 23rd 2018


7806 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Will add to my list for sure, I'll get to it soon enough

BeyondCosby
February 23rd 2018


2308 Comments


So is this your band or something? I feel like this album art was your avatar before this album dropped.

Divaman
February 23rd 2018


3172 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Hmm, Irish AND folk. I'm going to have to put this on my list.

Digging: Dresses - Sun Shy

Lucman
February 23rd 2018


1492 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Excellent review, Sowing. Sounds like something I'd love, adding it to my list!

Digging: Rivers and Robots - Discovery

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
February 23rd 2018


9130 Comments


I’m glad you’re active enough to write reviews like this

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 23rd 2018


28782 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2 | Sound Off

I'm really not. I whipped this up on my lunch break at work, lol. Thanks both of you!

shablaman54
February 23rd 2018


288 Comments


Folk? You mean Strokes?

deathschool
February 23rd 2018


23034 Comments


Das Xerneas, right?

Digging: This Will Destroy You - New Others Part Two

JustJoe.
February 24th 2018


5592 Comments


That's like definitely Xerneas fanart.

Mardorien
February 24th 2018


72 Comments


"Landmark" is absolutely mesmerising. This is exactly my kind of thing. Awesome review Sowing, as always.

JesperL
February 24th 2018


316 Comments


on first listen this is quite nice, though it does drag quite a bit. feel like it's going to be a grower

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 24th 2018


28782 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2 | Sound Off

The middle drags a little (still pretty, just nothing different) but the beginning and end of the record is top notch. I'm still waiting for some of the more inconsequential feeling midsection songs to resonate.



edit: and thanks, Mardorien!

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
February 24th 2018


9130 Comments


I whipped this up on my lunch break


Did you just feel how the entire user base just flinched seeing your skill on display? Show off : ]
Shock and awe my friend

zakalwe
February 24th 2018


26048 Comments


Oh look I see my comment was deleted.

It’s like cresting a wave and seeing the immense effervescent ocean only to realise you want to leave a single beautiful footprint on the crystalline sandy shore that is slowly disappearing behind you. A blind arcade.

Can I make sput staff? Facist.



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