This is a slightly different bunch of Arrows than the ones featured on 2001’s self-titled record. Those songs were from way back in 1996, a collection of old recordings made with an entirely different band to the new faces that guitarist Justin Sinkovich has gathered together for First Class, And Forever. One notable member is bassist Patrick Morris, who some might remember from his performances on Don Cabellero’s albums, For Respect and What Burns Never Returns.
It’s best to consider this a debut record then, as the band slowly, but surely, found its sound through the series of EP’s released during the recording of this album, and now come to cement it with an impressive full-length. First Class, And Forever is packed tightly with a rich and deeply-textured sound, and finds itself standing in-between the no man’s land of progressive rock and the slumbering grunge of Sinkovich’s last project, Atombombpocketknife.
‘Twenty Percent Brighter’ marches along at a brisk pace, Sinkovich’s hazy vocals perfectly pitched against the relaxing ebb and flow of the bassline. There are also loads of synthesised throwbacks to an era where people could listen to Tangerine Dream without being laughed out of the room. Casual Wave takes such keystrokes and rides upon them like a magic carpet, whilst the drums rumble like an angry stampede of Gary Numan fans.
Unsurprisingly, Morris’ bass is what really grabs hold of these tracks and nails them to the ground. It gives everything a dense sound, and often takes dominance over the fluttering guitar lines that intervene every now and again. That’s not too say the band refuse to rock out. Just after the calming, lo-fi electronica of ‘The Path Of Least Resistance’ comes ‘Peruvian Mountain Flight’, packing a punch as Morris’ bass soars up and down, constantly skipping away as the guitar riffs try to catch up with it.
First Class, And Forever is an inspired first album from The Poison Arrows. Never too proggy that it risks getting cluttered and overambitious, the tracks find their niche and exploit it, creating memorable slabs of crashing rock that, more often than not, end with climatic exuberance. At times it sounds like a gravelled car park, such is its dirty, bass-ridden production, but this only helps carve out their own sound for them to wallow in. Quite frankly, a first class debut album, and it’ll be interesting to see where these Arrows fly next.
Originally published on Sonic Dice.