As a modern rock phenomenon, Canada’s Arkells have earned some pretty impressive kudos in the nearly ten years since their founding. Last year’s JUNO Awards for Group of the Year and Rock Album of the Year (for their then-current effort, High Noon), only affirmed that positive impression. The nomination High Noon received for a Polaris prize short list further suggested that this indeed was a band with some serious gravitas. Granted, their modern rock sound is tailor made for commercial consumption, but there’s also something to be said for a group that takes their music seriously enough to constantly keep themselves on the road and away from any temptation to find them shrugged off as mere one hit wonders.
Not that that would ever be the case anyway. After four albums and various EPs, it’s evident the Arkells are in it for the long haul. Their latest release, Morning Report, suggests that they’re also not above tapping a certain trendiness, as evidenced by the infusion of rap and hip hop in very limited doses. Still, once they find their stride, there’s no denying their anthemic embrace.
Indeed, if anything, Arkells offer proof that first impressions aren’t always the most accurate barometer of a band’s real worth. The first couple of songs appear preoccupied with drinking in the shower, or conversely, listening to a girl singing in the shower. However it doesn’t take long for “My Heart’s Always Yours” to secure a sound that’s instantly affecting, if only based on the sentiments alone. By the time the album arrives at the back half of the set — specifically, “Hung Up,” “Come Back Home,” “A Little Rain (A Song for Pete),” and “And Then Some” — the song seem to soar. Choruses of the sing-along variety are found in abundance and the majesty of the music is undeniably clear.
Arkells still have work to do on this side of our northern border if they want to drive that dynamic home here. However, it’s also clear that our Canadian cousins have happened on to something that’s well worth attention. So here’s a news flash — Morning Report demands complete attention.