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Music Review: Arietta – Migration

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Perhaps a perfunctory listen slightly pegs Arietta’s Migration as a morsel of emo, post-rock wrapped in accessible pop veneer. But a deeper listen reveals that there’s an awful lot more going on here than meets the ear, as the arrangements are infused with a sort of unruliness that almost betrays the Toronto-based quintet’s technical knack.

Some bands simply ape other sounds and attempt to attach some form of expressive import on top of wholly derivative songwriting. This services the teenage set quite well, but what about the rest of us? What about the twenty-or-thirty-somethings that sometimes feel up shit creek without so much as a paddle?

The good news is that we don’t have to turn it down just because the weight of the world gets heavier on our shoulders.

Arietta’s debut represents the next step after all of that teen angst, packaging firm emotional downpours within procedural skill and song-craft that may remind some of acts like Minus the Bear or Moneen while maintaining a certain self-identity.

Migration is all about getting started and forging a path through life. The opening track, “Old Habits Die Young,” questions the ordinary routine that many fall into after escaping the “freedom” of youth. “Is this what I’ve become when I’m driven to begin?” asks singer Tyler Johnston over spiraling guitar.

The sense of disenfranchisement is far from monopolized by a particular age group, as we all have those moments where we don’t feel as though we belong. Arietta pleasingly argues for the obligation of finding one’s own way and building upon those moments of inventive truth apart from the norm and regardless of expectations. This is made all the more intoxicating with the band’s more mature approach.

The off-kilter drive of “Home. Friday. Midnight.” works well as a tale of lethargic dissatisfaction, while the loud moan of “A Prolonged Sense of Longing” weaves out lovingly over drummer Shehzaad Jiwani’s tricky beat and Johnston’s ability to call upon his “jazz hands.”

The joy of Arietta lies in that they know no boundaries musically. Whether it’s the aforementioned jazz experimentation or the country-fried lap steel of the beautiful “It’s An Uphill Battle And It’s All Downhill From Here,” this is a band in love with their art.

In a day and age of cookie cutter emo acts with hollow names socking out songs of sluggishness and worthlessness to kids around the world, it’s nice to hear that somebody’s picking up the pieces and taking that precious next step. Migration suggests that it might just be finally time to find something useful to do with all of that angst.

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