Just Listening to…Arkells – High Noon (2014)

When I reviewed this album six years ago, I rated it 4.5/5 stars.  For whatever reason, I’ve been playing this a lot over the last two weeks.  Like a lot lot.  Today I’d give it a solid 5/5.  High Noon by the Arkells has reached that upper echelon of albums that somehow, someway, have become so important to me that losing this album would be like losing an arm.  It’s in my soul now.  It’s part of me.  That’s not easy to do, especially for newer music.

I love the spirit.  The defiance.  The anger!  “Oh you’re just a boy, a little banker boy, everything’s a game and everyone’s your toy…”  A pretty scathing indictment of the wealthy who prey on the vulnerable, a practice which singer Max Kerman refers to as “Fake Money”.  It’s so upbeat that you don’t pick up on the anger until you actually listen to the words.  But when you do?  Hooboy!  Though the song sounds like a celebration, the lyrics cut like razors.

Then there’s the very-80’s “Come To Light”, a brilliant rock song with a Bowie beat.  There’s a tension built from synth and drums.  Then the piano delivers those hooks!  Kerman’s vocals are as impassioned as ever (“Impassioned” being his middle name, according to some reports).   Virtually every song could be a single, and this one was the first of four.  Another simply superior upbeat celebration follows, called “Cynical Bastards”.  You have to love that title!  Once again the keys are the dominant hook-deliverer, though the chorus itself is pretty damn awesome.  Even the lyrics are catchy!  “If the 80s were tough, the 90s were mean!”

Another serious favourite is track #4:  “11:11”.  You ever heard about that superstition that you’re supposed to make a wish when the clock shows 11:11?  A slower, more contemplative song, this beauty is all about meeting a sweetie at a bar.  “You made a wish at 11:11, I held your hips at 12:34,” goes the fabulous chorus.  “There was a kiss just waiting to happen, a cab was waiting just outside the door.”  A slower but still bright number called “Never Thought That This Would Happen” is one of most poetic yet colloquial songs about a one-nighter that I’ve ever heard.  “And I never thought that this would happen, and you got all weird after the weekend.  Sometimes you make out with an old friend, and I’m rounding first and I’m sliding into second…”  It’s also the only song on the album that exceeds four minutes.

Sometimes I wonder if these girls that Kerman is singing about know the songs are about them.

“Dirty Blonde” is another very 80s upbeat rocker, very much like 80s Elton John, but harder.  Just as many hooks though!  “What Are You Holding On To?” has a completely different vibe, happy and danceable.  This is followed by the uber-catchy “Hey Kids!” and the single “Leather Jacket”.  “Leather Jacket” is one that strikes home lyrically in many ways.  “You call me up from a pay phone, I say hang tight I can drive you home.”  Been there done that!  But my favourite line?  “You call me up from a pay phone, and I said, ‘Who the fuck uses a pay phone?'”  Regardless, “Leather Jacket” is instantaneous, flawless and passionate.

Just two more songs remain in this journey.  “Crawling Through the Window” slows things down to a strong digital pulse, with dark chords backing it.  Brilliant lyrics here describing a shitty old apartment.  “There were carpets in the bathroom, man, what the fuck’s a vacuum?”  Again it sounds like there’s a real story here.  Finally the dance rock of “Systematic” ends the album on a surprising, but no less catchy note.

Mastering engineer – Harry Hess!  By all means, get this album.  Get it.  Play it.  Play it again.  Fall in love.  I did.




        1. Sometimes it’s tough man. Sometimes everything turns upside down and I can’t even talk about it. So I post music… and hope someone understands. Look for cryptic music in the future.

          Liked by 1 person

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