Some albums come out of jam sessions but EricArthurBlair’s new record So, Shall We? feels like an intimately captured jam session. The album’s technicality is at the forefront on this record, pulling no punches on the intense amount of riffing in each song, mixing the band’s clear influences of pop punk and math rock to create an album that sounds like Rush possessing a distortion-less Paramore.
There’s a warmth to the album’s opening track “Somewhere Else,” a heavily syncopated guitar track that stops and goes relentlessly. The tracks endless stopping is saved when Patrick Hamilton’s vocals come in to give some connection to the loosely connected sessions on the track. The track starts driving when the rhythm section takes the reins and the song hits its stride in its percussively explosive ending that leaves a memorable moment in an otherwise jarring track.
The deceiving opening to “Ode To Spot” sounds like a ska-toned Rush track before the song defers to more ska inspired alt-rock than Rush. Nevertheless the track is some catchy chorus lines and playful guitar work, especially with the stereo mixed call and response between two guitars halfway through the track. The eccentric intros continue on “Automobile Wink” before the track once again settles into a more mellow jam, but this time there’s a restless rush to the beat that feels constantly on the edge of racing. When the song finally catches up its a smooth rhythm driven jam, with some background vocals that go from shouting to angelic on a dime.
“Darling, It’s The Weekend! (Live A Little)” keeps the racing pace moving, on a delightful riff that accelerates the entire verse into its sunny guitar bridges. It’s hard to tell if the speeding is intentional or not but regardless the band stays together the entire time flawlessly. The song hits its climax on an explosive final bridge with booming percussion and some great vocal work from the band as a whole. The album takes a break on the calm interlude of “Oar,” that feels like the score to many a sunny morning.
There’s a palpable excitement on title track “So, Shall We?” right from the start with some amazing drums and shouting vocals. The song then takes things down a sombre route of regret with lyrics like “I started tracing all my steps/Back to when we met,” but the band keeps the excitement on one of their catchiest choruses, sounding reminiscent of Not By Choice. Although the verses are a little flourish-heavy on “The Spirit Life Is The Best, Man!” there’s something undeniably catchy about the way each chorus section crashes down.
The album closes on the bright “There’s Something Beautiful I’m Unaware Of” which showcases the band’s talents the best of any track, between Hamilton and the other member’s vocals, and the great jams that finish the track, So, Shall We? is given one last hurrah.