Arp – More

arpRating: ★★★★☆

One of the great things about reviewing music is discovering an act that’s been around, but that you hadn’t given much attention to in the past few years.  For me, Arp is that group; I’ve devoured More, the latest release, and hunted down the rest of his catalogue.  From the opening track to the closing moments, it’s just remarkably moving, and if, like me, you ignore it, you’ll be doing yourself a huge disservice.

“High-Heeled Clouds” opens More with one of the best opening tracks I’ve heard this year.  A gently playful piano line works with the bass to open, before Alexis G enters with his vocals.  While one would seem to bounce at the musical mannerisms, there’s this perfect restraint that encourages solitary swaying.  But, it’s the slightest details within the track that really push the song into the realm of “stand-out;” there’s this sunny guitar solo that works its way in, fading into an atmospheric end.  But, while the opening moments slowly move forward, the following track of “Judy Nylon” creates the perfect counterpoint.  There’s a fuzzy guitar, and a heavier pounding on the piano, leaving you with loftier emotions, yet still in the spirit of the opening tune.

Suddenly, Arp leaves you in the mood for more ethereal pop moments with the warmth of “A Tiger in the Hall at Versailles.”  This tune’s more of a spiritual track, using the vocal as an extra instrument.  While you might not find yourself as attached to this song, it serves the album, overall perfectly, offering insight into the songwriting process.  It’s similar, in approach, to “Gravity,” which includes string arrangements for emphasis. The layering of each moment in these tunes gives you clues as to the way future songs are constructed, such as “Light + Sound.”  There you’ll find a similar formula, but what interested me are the faint horns flourishes or light keyboard notes that elevate a traditional pop-writing formula.

Of course, some of the other tracks are momentary throw-aways, thus why I can’t quite toss the perfect score towards More. I don’t mean one should toss these songs aside, as the little snippets of noise and samples provide detail to the storytelling of the record as a whole, but I was thirsting for more great pop moments.  I get it; I know why they’re there, but it shortens the album, leaving me hungry for more of Alexis’ word play and craftsmanship.  That being said, it’s part of the beautiful journey of this release.

Having barely been acquainted with Arp up to this point, I couldn’t help but fall in love, as if this was the first release.  The careful artistry of every track, even the snippets, overwhelmed me, washing me with emotions that are rare in a consumable musical age.  I can assure each and every person that reads this that you’ll find few records this year that are as rewarding and magnificent as I found More.

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