There are many warning signs to be found in music, often just by looking at the artwork. Black-clad, tattoed, beardies in a snowy forest are invariably intense Nordic metallers, clean-cut, be-stetson-ed, guys leaning on the hood of a pick-up truck are always cowboy country crooners and predominantly purple covers with futuristic graphics generally signpost a future-nostalgia synthwave band. It’s not often that I am wrong about such things. But here, I am happy to report, I am to some degree off the mark. Dammit!
Although The Arrival is certainly built on synthy ebbs and flows, shimmering keyboards, and a heady blend of post-punk, new romantic pioneering spirit and cutting edge adventure, there is a lot more going on than at first meets the eye. Or meets the ear, anyway. The opening, titular salvo, for example, heads off down such routes but its seductive grooves and brass-like inclusions give it a quite unexpected jazz sheen to match its sultry, up-town clubland ways.
Toxic City is poised dance-pop at its finest, Pink Moon is energetic to the point of euphoric and Never Ending Escape is full of epic drama and anthemic, stadium-ready vibes. And on top of everything are the crystalline vocals and the smart production as icing on the musical cake.
The Arrival is one of those albums which delivers more with every spin. You might start off thinking that you have heard all of this sort of thing before and you may well have heard something like it, but there is an elegance and restraint, musical eloquence and even, at times, a sonic grace running through the music, and it is that merging of the human, analogue, heartfelt world with the digital, slightly clinical, programmed one that Moon and Aries seem to do so much better than any of their rivals.
If the current zeitgeist, the fad, the fashion is for nostalgic, synth-scapes which tug at our old record collections whilst sounding cutting edge and forward-facing, well, Moon and Aries are not that, they are so much better than that.