Here at Radio 1190, Arthur’s “Woof Woof” has been crowned December’s CD of the month. The Pennsylvania-based artist has been a longtime member of the band Joy Again and makes his solo debut with this record.
Arthur is no stranger to indie rock due to his previous band experience, and he takes his own experimental twist on the genre on this record. The chord progressions and melodies in each song resemble happy, carefree indie rock music, but it is apparent that the bright tone of most of the songs is masking something much darker.
There is an unstable vocal effect throughout the record that pitches his vocals slightly higher or lower and gives them an unsettling vibratro that stands out from vocals you typically hear when listening to indie rock. He sings with passion on every song, and rather than hiding behind the vocal effects, he works with them to create something that strikes emotion in the listener. At face value, the songs feel positive and uplifting, but he sings piercing phrases like, “I want to hurt myself, I want to leave” and “It would be cool to be in a coma” over upbeat, pop beats. The moment you think a song is going to go in one direction, it stops in its tracks, slows down and then speeds right back up again to where it left you hanging.
The album gets progressively darker as you listen to it and touches on themes including death, self-hate, isolation and loneliness. The first song and title track, “Woof Woof,” has a groovy baseline and a remarkably catchy chorus, but Arthur’s lyrics and vocal timbre almost sound like a cry for help. The juxtaposition between the dark lyrical content and the almost playful tone of the songs is both eerie and exciting. Arthur’s production is impeccable, and he has mastered the balance between electronic and analog sounds.
It is hard to place this album in any specific genre or setting because it constantly contradicts itself. Although the record is 16 tracks long, most of the songs are only around a minute and a half long. The album abruptly stops and starts and stops again, and it jumps between moods erratically. The highs and lows of the record are short-lived and constantly switching, but this only enhances the listening experience. Arthur keeps you on your toes throughout the record and does a fantastic job of getting you in touch with his humanity. It’s refreshing to listen to music that addresses mental health and pain while bypassing the typical melancholy sound associated with those subjects. This album is truly unlike anything I’ve listened to before and is an exciting innovation in the genre of indie rock.
Ashley Koett is a music director at Radio 1190. Read more reviews: coloradodaily.com/columnists