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.