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Arrows Of Love
Product Jeremy Allen , August 11th, 2017 09:45

Anger, irony and raging guitars on the second album from Arrows Of Love

Electric guitars have gone out of fashion. Guitar bands, we now all think, are anachronistic, unhygienic, and most importantly - the industry has fathomed - uneconomical. Which is why, when the roll call for the sounds of 2018 articles hit the internet later in the year, they will all almost certainly full of solo acts and the occasional duo. The Strokes ushered in what felt like a whole new era of guitar acts and then ushered it out again Pied Piper-style by turning crap in the blink of an eye.

Given this dearth of decent guitar music (but don’t despair too much, there’s a whole 60 years of the stuff to explore), it’s something of a surprise when one comes along and punches you in gut. Or in the case of Arrows of Love, perhaps plunges you one in the eye. From east London, this five-piece sound as if they could have quite easily been part of the jeunesse dorée of the early-2000s. A track like ‘Signal’ with its frantic groove and pirouettes of noise, sounds too vital, too irrepressible and too pissed off to be any kind of pastiche though, which is certainly a good thing.

Their first album, 2014’s Everythings Fucked, offered more of the same grungey art-rock, though perhaps this second album is a more sophisticated affair. Certainly the concept of the record tries to be. Everythings Fucked had a Blues Explosion-influenced kick to it, and that incendiary but ultimately defeatist title. The new one, PRODUCT, is perhaps more cynical, tagged with the line: 'Your Soundtrack To The Impending Societal Collapse'. Conceptually you can’t help feeling they’ve tried to do a little too much and are caught between two stools. PRODUCT is ironic because it implies it’s just another record of no real significance among thousands of others, whereas making the record that will soundtrack the fall of late capitalism is a heady aim indeed. You suspect they hope it's the latter; it can’t be both.

Produced by Mikko Gordon and mixed by Bob Weston, it’s certainly an arresting record. ‘Desire’ is wild with lust and chaos, until it segues into extended moments of tenderness; ‘Beast’ is a hectic and enjoyable ride with low, elastic-y guitar crunching; ‘Come With Me’ is an atmospheric, acoustic-inflected short story that turns into something more urgent, with a woman's voice (something there should have been more of on this record) telling us that “this world is cynical / there’ll be no happy endings here”. Arrows of Love have been compared variously to Mclusky and 80s Matchbox B-line Disaster, and given that the lauding of those bands happened long after they both split up, you wonder if there’ll be any happy endings here either.