The Arrivals’ new album Volatile Molotov is a great addition to the ever-growing library of modern punk rock. There are a lot of modern punk bands performing that have a more sophisticated and refined sound in their instrumentation and songwriting that differs from the antics and stage shows that started punk.
The first track, “Two Years,” is slightly politically charged lyrically, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the apocalyptic predictions for December 2012 that some are still holding onto. “New Gold Standard,” the second song on the album, has a great riff and a solid hook that carries throughout most of the song. The production of this song — as of the entire album — is very precise; no feedback or distortion exists unless it’s supposed to be there.
My favorite song is probably “The Children’s Crusade,” which has a great instrumental breakdown that starts halfway through the song and continues through the end. Not sure if a Vonnegut reference was intended, as “The Children’s Crusade” was the original title to Kurt Vonnegut’s classic Slaughterhouse Five.
The thing that greatly delineates this album from most other punk albums is its rhythm and flow; the songs aren’t clearly separated — the instrumentation from “The Children’s Crusade” bleeds seamlessly into “The Power Won’t Be Staying on For Long” and then builds throughout that track until it all breaks down into a single guitar string into silence — then, like a scene change in a play, it is silent and “Front Line” picks right up the next part of the album.
The more fun and poppy sound comes back in “The Dilemma,” a very ‘80s-sounding song, something close to the Cure or the Smiths. “Positively Wall Street” is the most boring and least appealing song on the album, but the last three — “The Last Testament,” “Envelope Song,” and “Simple Pleasures in American” — more than make up for the lapse. At almost five minutes long, “The Last Testament” is reminiscent of Refused. “Envelope Song” is almost a minute, a distorted acoustic song that is my personal favorite of the final three tracks. It is a song that makes you reflect on your life when you listen to it, and that minute that the song is playing seems a lot longer than it should have been, and as the last echo of the guitar fades out and into “Simple Pleasures in America” the drums pick up and The Arrivals end the album on a fun note instead of the bleak, apocalyptic place that the album spends most of its time in.
Any fans of the Chicago music scene probably already know about The Arrivals, but for any fans of Refused, the Flatliners, or anyone sick of immature punk rock songs from their teenage days should check out Volatile Molotov.
(Recess Records, PO Box 1666, San Pedro, CA 90733)