Having already done a fair bit of promotion for this album on the blog, I think it needs little introduction really. However, I have to just mention that it is currently in the top ten in the UK Album Chart, which is a really massive achievement for the Manchester band. Although they’ve always been classed as indie, they’re a long way from your typical British indie sound and Arc is a perfect example of everything that they incorporate.
Opening with both of the album’s singles Cough Cough and Kemosabe, things get off to a cool, hipster pop start. Electronica spurts over every single surface and fast, energetic beats running underneath whining guitars is a common motif. Cough Cough is a classic electro-pop track whereas Kemosabe is a more chilled pop sound with a smokey guitar section. Duet is another addition, which merges the synth beat with an awesome guitar ending, which is a bit of an unexpected twist.
Most of the tracks on Arc are electronica based with a healthy dose of indie guitars, as seen on Torso Of The Week and Radiant, which both have pop melodies but moments of rockier tangents. The use of a steel drum sound is also a regular on the album, being most prominent on Choice Mountain, which appears to be shrouded in a mystical darkness with plenty of metallic twists and a general air of mystery. That Caribbean tone appears again on Feet For Hands and Undrowned, where it takes on an eerie form and is coupled with haunting vocals. With fast, lose-your-breath lyrics and a dramatic build-up into its final thirty seconds of ethereal electro-pop, it’s one of the strongest, most intriguing tracks on the album.
There’s even a throwback to the 90s in Armourland, a classic pop track with more than a bit of retro boyband in it. Juddering vocals, a catchy melody and an altogether much more cheesy sound than the other tracks on the record, you have to wonder whether the band had in fact been high on NSync videos, when they wrote it. As a complete contrast, we have The Peaks which is without a doubt one of the most beautiful, enchanting songs. Completely stripped back with nothing but a piano, it’s a pretty pop ballad but with so much more heart in it. You listen to it and just know that it would be an incredible live track.
Arc has a couple of tracks, including the title minute and a half, which aren’t quite up to the standard of the others. Arc and The House Of Dust are a little on the dreary, dull side for me. They’re much more low key and downbeat and to be honest, you simply skim over them. All in all, it’s not an album where you’ll love every track but I do appreciate that they’ve included both light and shade.