Led by former Atombombpocketknife member Justin Sinkovich, The Poison Arrows are an indie nerd’s dream. With a pleasantly cavalier attitude towards modern song construction, this Chicago outfit’s debut record takes joy in its tortuous nature and celebrates its stranger moments.
Along with Sinkovich, the Arrows feature bassist Patrick Morris and drummer Adam Reach.
With basic tracks recorded at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio Studio A, First Class, And Forever brims with a sort of minimalistic facility. ‘Course, calling the music of these Arrows simplistic would be a hell of a gaffe. As the compositions spread out and amble through their respective courses, the real meat of the songwriting and instrumentation takes hold.
This is far from reachable, good-time rock and, truth be told, I had a bit of trouble digging in and finding an emotional connection with the material.
The labyrinthine guitar of “Future Wine” kicks things off. Sinkovich’s vocals are isolated and somewhat immobile, perhaps correctly. The instrumentation is remarkable, with rising and falling notes creating a shower of sonic thunder.
“Total Beverage” is a little more involved vocally, as Sinkovich almost takes a drunken approach to the matter. Brian Case provides additional vocals. Reach’s drums provide firmness in the surroundings, while a smart permutation of bass and guitar melt it down. Sinkovich wisely inserts keyboard, giving the piece more texture.
The Poison Arrows play the post-progressive, neo-surrealist game fairly well, I suppose, but part of the problem lies with the observation that they’ve appeared to go with rational, oblique delivery over earnest song construction. First Class, And Forever comes across as very ostentatious and expressively unoccupied.
“An Unexploded Dream” is a roomy cut with whispered vocals, extensive keyboard, and skillful instrumentation, but while a comparable piece from a band like Radiohead would provide the listener an access point, the Arrows seem content with leaving everybody on the outside listening in.
Don’t get me wrong: there are some incredible compositions here. First Class, And Forever works magnificently as a platform for these three talented indie musicians. With that in mind, though, I can only hope that future efforts from The Poison Arrows will provide more than just arresting guitar lines and multifarious arrangements that do more to isolate than involve.Powered by Sidelines