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Album Review: Arkells – High Noon

3 min read

The boys from Hamilton in Canada are back with new album High Noon. It’s hard to believe they were formed 8 years a go, but they have gone from strength to strength in their home country, and now it’s time the rest of the world gave them a chance to replicate their success everywhere.

Arkells - High NoonThe album feels like they’ve really thrown everything into it, wanting more than ever their shot at global fame. It’s not so much as ‘ohh look at us, we want to be really famous’, but more subtle, like ‘this is what we have, listen and if you find something you like, brilliant’.  Too many bands are in your face these days so it’s nice to see a band treat the listener to a choice.

Kicking off with Fake Money, the track feels like a strange mix between The Pogues and Arcade Fire.  Stay with me here, it might sound ridiculous, but it actually works really well. Their insightful lyrics with political edge and its non-conformity to the popular sound of indie rock is refreshing.  Lead singer Max Kerman shows his penchant for a nice shouty slogan here as he sings of ‘praying on the weak and those who don’t believe’.

Cynical Bastards sounds like one of those tracks you’ve heard all your life put cant put your finger on who it is – the sign of a well written track.  There’s a bit of the Killers in there, but enough of themselves to make it their own.  This is a track you can imagine being played loud and proud at an indie disco to get the dance floor going, and a definite album highlight.

Come to light shows off the bands fascination with the 80s, feeling like Springsteen from 30 years ago (yes, unbelievably 30 years is true), backed up with surprisingly well-rounded lyrics which, for many indie bands these days, is a rarity.

The 80s vibe is seen on many tracks, with Dirty Blonde being one of the bestsounding like Haim but with boys. Then all of a sudden Arkells decide to switch to a 70s pop rock style with What Are You Holding Onto and Hey Kids.  The former delves into T-Rex’s catalogue, with the latter borrowing heavily from Elton John.  These tracks aren’t bad, but they just feel a little disjointed making an appearance on the record. Fair enough you don’t want an album full of the same songs, but they do feel a little out of place.

Systematic finishes off the album nicely with a track where Arkells feel most comfortable – catchy, poppy, indie rock.  It’s a nice ending to a decent album that’s a good introduction to people who’ve never heard of them before.  Light and airy with an undertone of clever lyrics, this is the boys’ at their best.  Despite the lack of coherency in places, they’ve done well here and High Noon deserves to be known worldwide.