Taking up Arms

By SAM PFEIFLE  |  February 17, 2010

And finally there is Saucier alone and a delicate "whoah-oh-oh" finish, with chiming keyboard behind, and the pops and hiss of a record being played. It's exquisite, really. Probably the best moment on the album, vying with the excellent call-and-response finish to "A Minor Thing."

It's helped, too, that Noah Cole has again shown himself to be a rising major talent in handling the engineering role. Last year's Cambiata record sounded outstanding and this is right behind it. The two "Interlude"s pull off a couple of nice tricks, especially, with the first managing a dark electronica sound that should clash with the rest of the record, but fits nicely, with a booming drum like the Mines of Moria, and a controlled cacophony of digital beeps and boops. In the second, a plodding bass from Matt Lavoie provides dark foundation for a light, noodling guitar lead, a little bit Hendrix, a bit Stevie Ray, and seemingly improvised, before the second guitar enters and takes the vibe into a strut. Finally, a string wash enters, though maybe it's a saw. Hard to tell. Regardless, it's an eclectic collection of sounds to make cohesive.

This last "Interlude," too, moves seamlessly into the closing "The Tale of Dary Carver," an opus that opens big, with chiming quick guitar, then pulls back into lumbering chords for a measure, and finally settles into what might be called Arms' standard verse delivery, which can make it hard to distinguish songs by their verses, as there's a lot of similar pacing and delivery, despite there being so much activity.

The hand claps are a nice touch here, as is the breakdown to bass and drums, pulled out by atmospheric chords and the idea that "I've been losing sight of what's real."

If Arms Against a Sea don't lose sight of those ills they have, they'll lick those troubles — no sweat.

Sam Pfeifle can be reached at sam_pfeifle@yahoo.com.

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