It’s hard to overstate how much of a phenomenon Arkells are in their native Canada. They are the country’s most-played alt/rock band. They’ve also earned 200 million streams, 7 Juno awards, and sold 50,000 tickets for their Toronto and hometown Hamilton shows. The list goes on. Maybe you’ll understand it if you’ve seen any of their frenetic live shows. If not, you’ve got that delight to come when normality returns. Until then, you can get to know them through their new record, Blink Once.
Liberation is a great Arkells primer. They don’t skirt negativity; hell, the crux of the narrative is “you were fighting that cancer but it doesn’t fight clean/you said ‘just take me dancing.'” Nevertheless, the sound is upbeat and the overall message is positive; stay close and make memories while you can.
You Can Get It, featuring K. Flay, is explosive and uncompromising: “I don’t give a fuck/tell me what you want/you can get it.”
All Roads falls in something like a cross between Brandon Flowers and Brian Fallon. Not a bad combo, right? The importance of maintaining relationships and friendships is centred: “I’m Irish with my goodbyes/it’s my calling card…doesn’t matter where we both are now/I’ll be with you when it all goes down.”
Touchingly, Strong gives us the perspective of the patient from Liberation. Things aren’t looking good but they’re feeling for relatives in the waiting room and wishing for one last dance.
The Little Moments interlude eases us out of the sombre scene into a joyous celebration of identity and heritage. It’s an affirmational singalong song that we wouldn’t be surprised to hear Robbie Williams cover in a bid for a chart comeback!
Truce finds Max Kerman exploring higher ends of his vocal on a subtly catchy little number that’s yet again reminiscent of Brandon Flowers’ solo output.
Nobody Gets Me Like You Do is a banger right from the get-go. Good luck not nodding your head when the chorus kicks in!
Swing Swing Swing is all beats and spitting rhymes but it’s still exploring broken relationships and hoping for some sort of reconciliation.
No Regrets is another certified bop about a friends-with-benefits situation from the perspective of the one wanting more.
Years In The Marking has the traits of a high school marching band tune, complete with a marching beat, until the chorus beckons you to run to the dancefloor.
The interlude What The Feeling Was Like underscores the importance of relationships. It’s a spoken word affirmation of the importance of friendships at a time of tragedy.
In case you’ve missed the point throughout the record, Arm In Arm is explicit (literally and figuratively) about the ‘life is short, hold your loved ones close, and don’t sweat the small stuff’ themes of the record. Sample lyrics: “not gonna lie, I’m glad we’re both here/stand up, tell the ones you love you love ’em.”
Arkells – Blink Once is out now.
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