Wednesday, November 9, 2011

ARMS - Summer Skills (2011)

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This year there has been no more greatly anticipated album for me than ARMSSummer Skills. I was inadvertently introduced to ARMS via “Emily Sue, Pt. II” on online clothing website ASOS and immediately set up to know more about them. That was in February when their free five song EP had already been out for about a year and there was talk of the album being released in May. I can’t tell you how many repeat listens to this short EP occurred within the period of February and May but it could only be described as a certifiably unhealthy amount. Each milestone like my first ARMS concert, the release date announcement, the album trailer, first single, etc. has only added to the intense anticipation I had for the album.

Summer Skills makes good on the almost year-long promise of greatness. The concept – a sci-fi supernatural break up album was creative gold; innovative and if handled with the proper amount of care a feat of surefire genius. There was never any doubt. Beginning with energetic “Emily Sue, Cont’d”, you can’t help but marvel at ARMS talent for creating the odd, eerie mood that is so essential to the album's effectiveness. It’s your first introduction to their precise, cohesive style and features some rather grizzly visuals presented with throwaway concern and an eyebrow-raising sense of elation. It sets the stage for the emotional double-guessing positively bursting from each song.

Summer Skills is a rich, layered album with a permeating sense of mystique that gives the album much of its momentum; it’s deeply visceral but also an intensely intelligent endeavor. The songwriting is unbelievably nuanced filled with terrific shifts in emotions and a mind-blowing array of great musical moments on both a grand and minor scale (the return of the riff from “Emily Sue, Cont’d” in “Curtains“ was unexpected and deeply pleasing). The work of a talented group of musicians with an artist’s keen eye for details and a novel writer’s set of literary chops, ARMS blends diverse textures with such style and finesse they’re practically incomparable. There’s no struggling for words or identity here. Summer Skills shows a band fully at ease with their sound and unafraid to take risks. I don’t normally rate albums but ARMS' Summer Skills might very well be the greatest album of the year. For me at least. And it should be for you because the thing’s a freaking gem.

Make sure and grab ARMS Summer Skills, out today, here.

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