Southampton’s electro-darlings Arp Attack return with their third release of the year. With a long list of influences ranging from MIA to Radiohead, it was difficult to know what to expect from their new EP Devil’s Drop.
The first track of the EP, ‘Amnesty’, acts as an indicator as to what Arp Attack are all about. The sound is undoubtedly catchy, whilst at no point becoming superficial. There’s a jauntiness to the drums that carries through their songs, tempering what could be unadulterated pop and creating something much more intriguing. Imagine if Hot Chip exchanged a few chromosomes with a really good 90s pop act, like Len. That’s the overall sound of this EP.
Their stand out offering is second track ‘Lucky Man’. It has a much more exclusively electro feel than the other tracks. Opening with floaty synths taken straight from the 80s, it moves quickly into an incredibly simple and dirty sounding bass loop. The whole track builds with a subtlety and clarity that makes it instantly accessible. It’s reminiscent of the kind of early electro music formed solely on one sequencer whilst sitting on the end of a bed (“I’ll be down in a minute mum!”), a lot like Tracy and the Plastics, and contains all the attributes that make this kind of music great.
The following two tracks return to a more experimental approach. ‘Bicycle’ again adopts a pop sensibility before disrupting proceedings with a foray into mathy time signatures and fidgety drumming. Arp Attack deal with some fairly lofty concepts, but they seem to do so in a fairly throw-away fashion, not really dwelling or becoming too absorbed in them. They move to the edge of indulgence without ever careering over the tipping point, moving quickly back to feel-good pop hooks before it becomes too late. Their restraint is commendable and demonstrates a real understanding of their craft.
It’s hard really to fault this collection of songs. They’re catchy and upbeat whilst being varied enough to reward multiple listens. My only concern would be that they could fall victim to their own ambition. Whilst the more experimental elements of their sound are successful, they could be seen to disrupt the flow of what could have been a solid pop release. Ironically, the elements that make their songs objectively better could be their downfall. Hopefully this will prove not to be the case, and nobody around you will complain when you take your stereo to The Common and blast this out on a sunny day.