The Arkells - Michigan Left
Thirty-some years ago, Rick Carnes uttered the five most argued about words in combination in the history of rock and roll: “Rock and Roll is dead.” Since that utterance bands across the globe have been working hard to prove Carnes wrong – the Arkells are not among them. Instead, they are making completely competent, crisply produced and brilliantly inoffensive “rock” music.
There is nothing wrong with Michigan Left – it is fine. The songs are good, or if not good at least passable for background in an almost cool record store. The songs are cute and earnest and well put together. Drummer Tim Oxford does his job well and drives each song to their inevitable climax just after the bridge and into the the dead centre of the final chorus. ‘On Paper’ and ‘Michigan Left’ are the standouts of the album; ‘Book Club’ and ‘Bloodlines’ do the job of being unabashedly saccharine; and the whole album dreams big city dreams for this suburban band.
Maybe it isn’t the job of The Arkells to fight for rock and roll. Maybe they don’t owe anything to their predecessors. Maybe they are making exactly the kind of music they want to make. And if that is case, kudos to them, right? At the end of the day though, this isn’t the kind of rock music that is going to have parents picketing; it isn’t the kind of rock music that is going to start fights or get anyone pregnant in the back of their dad’s car; it isn’t the kind of rock music that will change a generation of kids. Instead it’s the kind of rock music that might make you tap your foot and, if you catch The Arkells at the right moment, you may even ask the person behind the counter in American Eagle what the song is.
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