Reviews The Arrivals Volatile Molotov

The Arrivals

Volatile Molotov

When it comes to overlooked bands, Chicago’s Arrivals should be right near the top. The band has never been overly prolific, releasing only four records since the mid ‘90s. Yet here we are, in 2010, and the band has released another solid record in Volatile Molotov.

The Genre Monster would call the Arrivals pop-punk. They play accessible, melodic songs with a notable bounce to their step and singalong, mid-tempo harmonies. However, it owes far more Naked Raygun than Screeching Weasel. The band draws from varied sources, with ‘60s R&B shining through in many of the harmonies and even a hint or two of twee permeating a couple of tracks. Volatile Molotov contains thirteen songs and none of them sound alike.

The band has two singers, both of whom play guitar: Isaac Thotz, whose voice is more on the raspy, emotive side; and Dave Merriman, who delivers more soothing and harmonic material. Tone-wise, the two are similar enough to blend together well—it’s not jarring when a Thotz song ends and a Merriman song begins—yet their styles are distinct enough to give the record variety.

Their songs celebrate a working class aesthetic, espousing a gritty feel that runs counter to the melodic flow. Merriman may be singing “Now I see the forest for the trees,” in “The Power Won’t Be Staying on for Long” with a cool, collected delivery, but the lyrics are pointed and direct in their gloomy message. Most of the bands lyrics are similarly inclined, balancing upbeat and poppy rhythms with analytic, sociological observations and declarations.

Side B takes the record for an even more upbeat (and somewhat surprising) turn. Generally, the content covers the same thematic elements, but there is an extra bounce in the latter songs that gives it a near celebratory feel. When Thotz and Merriman harmonize together that “Now they put me on the frontlines,” it’s hard not to sing along emphatically while maintaining the meaning. “The Dilemma” follows it with even more peppiness, this time driven by a syncopated ‘60s pop feel and a bit of a backbeat, making it even harder to pigeonhole them to a strict subgenre. After twelve serious songs, though, the band lets loose with the positive spirit “Simple Pleasures in America,” a gigantic “whoa-oh” in celebration of the little things in life. The romp has some of the catchiest bits of the year, and the entire band takes turn at the mic to deliver their simple pleasures, including Costello and drummer Ronni DiCola.

8.3 / 10Loren
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8.3 / 10

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