Posts Tagged ‘Arrows of Love’

Christopher Nosnibor

A few weeks ago, before the start of a spoken word night, another performer approached me and opened with the line ‘these people hate you.’ She went on to explain the specifics of why they hate me, citing a piece that was – but wasn’t – about suicide that I performed in August, and how the ferocity of my sets in general were not appreciated at this particular night. I was taken aback, shaken, and rather wounded. My confidence was rattled. It took me some time and reflection to realise that not only did I not care, but was actually pleased – elated, even – that people could react so strongly to my work. After all, it’s not hate speech or anything nearly so insidious, and ultimately, if you’re pleasing all of the people all of the time, you’re not making art, but entertainment.

The reason this is relevant is because Arrows of Love make art. They refer to themselves as art-rock, but there’s nothing pretentious about them or their music. In person, they’re some of the friendliest, most approachable and generous people you could wish to meet. On stage, they’re as challenging a band as you’re likely to see – or half-see: tonight, they play in near-darkness to a depressingly small crowd, moving shadows cranking out a fearsome wall of angular noise that straddles grunge and goth-tinged post-punk. And they don’t care: if anything, they revel in the perversity and play as hard as ever.

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Arrows of Love

With more time than usual on account of the original co-headliners cancelling, they dig deep to deliver an attacking extended set which features the majority of the new album, Product. As well it should: while its predecessor, Everything’s Fucked was a snarling, sprawling squall of an album, Product is more focused, denser, more intense, and even more pissed off. The first song of the set is also the album’s opener and single cut ‘Signal,’ a sinewy slice of tension that explodes in every direction.

‘Desire’ is deep, dark, and brooding, and The Knife’ from the debut is deadlier than ever, with added guitar noise and played with a blistering ferocity at its searing climax. The grinding dirge that is ‘Restless Feeling’ invites comparisons to Swans circa 1983/84, and the jarring, grating sonic backdrop is rendered literal as Nuha swaps her bass for a plank of wood and coping saw, which she proceeds to gnaw away at while drums and bass shudder along at a glacial pace. It’s mighty, but hardly moshable.

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Arrows of Love

Nimah would later tell me that he was tired and – on account of having to drive after the show – completely sober, but he still fires into it with unbridled fury, spitting the lyrics like they’re his last words as he’s being dragged off to his execution, and the band crackle with dark energy.

It’s this unstinting, uncompromising, total bloody-mindedness that makes Arrows of Love the band that they are, and as they churn out a juddering, sneering rendition of ‘Predictable’. The only thing predictable about the band is the intensity of the performance (as if to illustrate the point, guitarist Alex, who stepped in when Lyndsey left, is now Alice, who’s perhaps less flamboyant than her predecessors, but still cranks out a mean overdriven six-sting racket), and this highlights the contrast between them and the evening’s support act, Naked Six. The York duo kick out a fiery and energetic set of heavy, balls-out, stomping blues rock with big nods to Led Zep, and having seen them a handful of times, they’re incredibly solid and consistently entertaining. But it’s not art.

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Naked Six

Art is dangerous, risky, uncomfortable. With the roaring attack of ‘Toad’ and the tempestuous closer ‘Beast’, Arrows border on the unlistenable, presented in a style that borders on unwatchable, with no concessions to commerciality. There is something about the lack of illumination which renders them even more inaccessible, more untouchable tonight. If Arrows of Love’s latest album really is the ‘soundtrack to the impending societal collapse’, then bring it the fuck on if it means more shows like this.

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I’m Not From London Records

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s a fucking miracle Arrows of Love are still here, let alone that they’ve managed to nail a second album. But then, to watch them play live, it often seems like a fucking miracle that they can make it to the end of a set. Everything about Arrows of Love, from day one, had had an air of precarity, teetering on the brink of implosion. Every song carries that same sense of danger. It’s their wild volatility that sets them as one of the most exciting bands of the last decade, but ultimately, it’s the songs that matter. They’ve always had songs: sprawling, messy, noisy, fucked up and perversely challenging songs, underpinned with some lean grooves.

Product has been a long time in coming and the line-up on this, their second album, is quite different from the one which recorded their debut. In the period between the delivery of aforementioned debut the nihilism-in-a-nutshell noisefest that was Everything’s Fucked (May 2014) Arrows of Love have evolved, and perhaps some of it’s a natural progression and some of its… not so much an increasing maturity as a refocusing of energy, and some if it’s a result of the personnel changes. One obvious shift is the absence of shared vocals: Lyndsey Critchley’s departure has certainly altered the dynamic of the band in that sense (bassist Nuha Ruby Ra’s vocal contributions are a lot less prominent, and she only leads on one track, the surprisingly sultry and almost tender ‘Come With Me’), and Product is a lot less direct and attacking than its overtly grunge-orientated predecessor.

That doesn’t mean that Product is any less confrontational or antagonistic, and the nihilism which drove Everything’s Fucked is apparent in the subtitle ‘Your Soundtrack To The Impending Societal Collapse.’ Moreover, the use of the definite article shows an absolute confidence in what lies ahead – Arrows of Love are certain we’re past the tipping point and freewheeling toward the end of the world as we know it. Product is certainly a darker, more claustrophobic affair than its predecessor, and finds Arrows exploring wider, deeper territory in the process.

‘Signal’ is dark, dense, disturbing, and desperate, and is heavily hung with a curtain of goth which drapes over the violent (post)punk energy. ‘Did you ever see this coming?’ Nemah challenges through a fuzz of distortion ‘Let the lunatics run the asylum,’ he spits, and we know that this isn’t the future he’s predicting, but a plain observation on the present. The tension builds into a squalling racket and the vocals reach fever pitch as the track reaches its explosive climax.

It feels like an eternity since ‘Predictable’ first aired on-line – and while the band articulate their ennui at the daily shit that is life in the 21st century, as a musical work it’s anything but predictable. The vocals transition from drawling boredom in the verse to screaming mania in the chorus, while the guitars lurch and swerve every which way.

Marking a change of pace and direction, ‘Desire’ is dark, brooding, stripped back, introspective. At near the six-minute mark, it’s a seething mess of emotions: Arrows of Love are a band who’ve always emanated a gritty sexuality, but this channels it in a very different way, and it’s not comfortable or snuggly.

‘Tidal’ is perhaps the most overtly ‘art-rock’ song on the album, as well as being the most classically ‘grunge’ composition, with its quiet / loud verse / chorus juxtaposition. At the same time it encapsulates the dual character of Product, and album that swings – quite effortlessly, and thus with maximum impact – between classic post-punk trappings and raging noise, with exploratory experimentalism informing the process.

‘Beast’, which premiered some months ago now, is a swampy, squalid mess of seething abrasion a throbbing mess of bass that sonically calls to mid Melvins in places but ultimately stands as the soundtrack to a riot. The shrieking ‘Toad’ is equally uncompromising, and ‘The Parts That Make the (W)hole’ comes on like a hybrid of The Fall, Shellac and The Cooper Temple Clause. ‘Restless Feeling’ captures the dark, dirgy doom of Swans circa 1984 and makes for one hell of a low ending to the album: if anything, it’s the sound of society after the collapse as its low-end swell builds to an all-consuming tsunami of noise.

Product bridges the gap between Bauhaus and Nirvana, but ultimately, any comparisons are but signposts to an album which is unique in its standing. Product avoids pretence and overblown portentousness: it doesn’t make lofty statement about the future, but instead stands as a painfully intense document of the present. If any album of the last five years articulates the dizzying, anxietised state of contemporary life, it’s Product.

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AOL - Product

With the release of their second album, PRODUCT – the follow up to 2014 debut Everything’s Fucked – scheduled for release on  21st July, one of our favourite bands on the planet, Arrows of Love serve up a second taster in the form of ‘Signal (Redux)’, which has been mastered, once again, by Shellac legend Bob Weston.

‘Signal (Redux)’ hints at a band expanding their sonic repertoire: it’s still an abrasive, jolting, grungy racket, but their nihilistic fury is sculpted with hints of Gang of Four with an elastic bassline and scarring, fractured guitar. It’s probably their best work to date, and augers well for the album. Get your lugs round ‘Signal (Redux)’ here:

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The album will be available on Vinyl and CD across US/European territories on 21st July , which you can pre-order globally via www.pledgemusic.com/projects/arrowsoflove.

 

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Tape Records – 9th December 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Fuck yeah! Purveyors of premium quality grungey no-wave noise Arrows of Love serve up the second taster of their second album, Product, and ‘Beast’ is appropriately titled. A sprawling, squalling mess of chaos, it sums up everything that makes Arrows of Love the band they are.

Now, I was hooked on AoL from the moment I heard the opening bars of ‘Honey’ back in 2012 . That low-slung, dirty bassline and the fizzy guitar racket was one of the most exhilarating things I’d heard in years.

Granted, it’s live that they really come into their own, but their studio recording are a pretty accurate reflection of their wildly unpredictable, full-tilt, performances, and Everything’s Fucked was one of the most courageously raw albums -debut or otherwise – of 2014.

Beyond the music, Arrows of Love have a social and political conscience, too, as the band members’ Facebook postings and the press release in support of the single attest: ‘During the last few months Arrows of Love stepped away from their album recording process to fight a campaign against the ex-Olympic Authority LLDC. With their own warehouse community threatened with demolition as London continues to lose parts of its soul to gentrification, Vittoria Wharf hit local and worldwide news when residents stood up to fight closure. The band and a slew of local artists spearheaded the defence of what i-D called “a thriving centre for cultural and artistic output” during the #savevittoriawharf campaign… ‘Beast’ is a song built for speed. Its anthemic forward march is a sensibility that runs counter to the over-stuffed, of-the-moment world we live in and its context runs parallel with the bands defiant nature. “A lot of people have asked me if I’ve written any songs about this fight with the corporation” says Nima, “This song was actually written over a year ago, but as we’ve been playing and recording it this summer the lyrics turned out to be prophetically relevant”. Proving that Arrows Of Love are one of a rare breed of bands that stand by what they preach when the moment calls.’

All the more reasons to love the band: they’re not your regular egotistical musos, but a gang who give a shit about stuff that matters at a grass-roots level.

Produced with a suitably light touch by Mikko Gordon (Thom Yorke, Gaz Combes), and mastered with a full appreciation of the band’s intent by Bob Weston of Shellac, ‘Beast’ is a bass-driven sprawl of angular racket which indicates that Product will be even more gnarly and uncompromising than its predecessor. I for one am very excited by the prospect. You should be too.

We’re not going to give this an intro. It’s a new video from Arrows of Love. It’s psychotic. It’s deranged. It’s noisy . It’s awesome. Watch it. If you don’t dig it, this isn’t the website for you.

Christopher Nosnibor

Temple of Boom is the epitome of the underground venue. Not in geographical terms, but in that it puts on way cool gigs you have to be in the know to find out about. And you have to find the place. Even on my third visit, I found myself wondering if I was in the right place, as I wandered barren streets lined by warehouse units and esoteric businesses with reinforced steel roller covers festooned with graffiti over their doors and windows, and had to double-check the so-inconspicuous-as-to-be-almost-secret entrance. And stuff happens when it happens. 8pm start means there’ll be someone behind the bar. The first band may be on at 9, perhaps half past or whenever. But that’s the thing with the underground. It’s not mainstream, it’s not out there in the public domain, and you have to seek it out and invest some effort to reap the rewards. Arrows of Love are a band who justify any such efforts.

I’ve seen Arrows of Love on three previous occasions. And I can’t get enough of them. From the moment I heard the dirty, low-slung bass thud of ‘Honey’ I was hooked. And as a live act, they’re something else. Their shows are wildly unpredictable, cathartic celebrations of beautiful chaos during which anything could happen, and often does. So very predictable, they aren’t. They’re as likely to set the place on fire as to crash and burn. And that is every reason why they’re the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll band going right now. They really do exist on the edge.

The Franceens (predictably) kick ass when they finally take to the stage shortly after 10pm. Their energetic, choppy, punky indie is infectious in its own right, but live is where they really kill it. Guitarist / singer Dan Oliver Gott races into the crowd on a number of occasions, exuberant, larger than life. They’ve got songs, and hooks, too. Delivering high–octane rock action from beginning to end, it really is hard to fault ‘em.

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The Franceens

Scrawny leather jacket wearing skanks Ming City Rockers look like a rock band. By which I mean, if you were to gather together every stereotype of the last 40 years and distil it into a single act, it would be Ming City Rockers. The singer sports wildly backcombed hair and looks like he’s stepped out of a Chris Morris sketch, while the lead guitarist looks like she’s wandered in from an 80s fancy dress party where she’s gone as Strawberry Switchblade, but in Ian MacCulloch’s coat. If they were half as good as they think they are, they’d be awesome. Revelling in rock ‘n’ roll cliché only works with a heavy dose of irony, and if you’ve got some really strong songs. The red-lipsticked bassist has nice teeth though.

Ming City Rockers

Ming City Rockers

 

Arrows of Love are close to unveiling their second Bob Weston mastered long player, Product, mooted as being quite a progression from the squalling grunge racket of their debut, Everything’s Fucked. On the evidence of ‘Toad’, which they’ve recently put up for streaming, they’re venturing into even murkier, noisier, more angular, territory. They’re also showcasing a (relatively) new lineup: in replacing drummer Mike Frank and singer / guitarist Lyndsey Critchley, Craig Doporto and Alex Brown have got a major task in prospect. I did briefly meet them before they played, and like the rest of the band, they’re lovely people. It turns out they’re also bloody good on stage and possess the energy and charisma that’s so essential to the band’s style.

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Arrows of Love

It’s gone midnight when they take to the stage, and Nima Teranchi is rocking the Jaz Coleman look with untamed dark hair and utilitarian boiler suit (which makes a dazzling contrast with bassist Nuha’s electric blue locks and rather more slinky stagewear). He’s not low on intensity when in front of the mic, either, and the second they strike the first chord, everything about the band crackles with manic energy, and exude an ineffable magnetism. They’re beyond – and above – mere ‘cool’. Yes, they put on a show, but it’s not merely performance: there’s something almost transcendental about an Arrows of Love show, with five people completely immersed in the music and the moment.

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Arrows of Love

I soon realise that while trains between Leeds and York are good, there’s nothing between 00:45 and 02:15, and with a 6am start looming, I’m going to have to bail early. But then ‘early’ is relative…

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Arrows of Love

I manage to squeeze four songs before having to peg it, and while I’m itching to know what they’re going to do next, I’ve already seen enough to get a handle on the fact they’re on blistering form, and seriously loud. They’re already bigger outside their homeland, and may yet to really crack the Leeds scene and the north more generally, but shows like this can’t fail to build their reputation, and it’s hard to believe that Product won’t see them explode. If ever a band deserved global cult status, Arrows of Love do.