The Armed, that mysterious, indecipherable entity of Detroit post hardcore, rocked the shelves in 2021 thanks to the shocking -through-the-exaggeration- “Ultrapop”. It is ironic that it is that album that bears that name because, it is easy to infer from the first shot, that it would be even better for this one. “Perfect Saviors”.
On that occasion the collective was emboldened and wasted certain creative resources, even delivering a relatively solid record. The album showed an excessive enthusiasm for making an impact: the image could not be more cool, the production could be described as hard core-avant garde, the ideas were good, but the “more is more” that they practiced left them in a space of dubious prestige. What was hard to argue with was that creative freedom was an asset the band possessed and was in good health.
But there is good news: everyone who made you hostage to your own aspirations in “Ultrapop”, They are ghosts that took away the spring that the project/group/collective went through in the process of “Perfect Saviors”. “It is our sincerest intention to create the best rock record of the 21st century” said Tony Wolski, the singing voice of the move. The grandiose aspiration is of course excessive, but beware, reality says that it may be enough for them to have managed to make the best rock album of 2023. There is emotion and melodies with a lot of hook here. There is grime, artistic perspective, and magnificent production and acting work. By the way, control of the recording has fallen to Wolski himself along with Ben Chisholm and QOTSA, A Perfect Circle and Gone Is Gone collaborator Troy Van Leeuwen. Almost nothing.
The budget for the many guests will also help, including Josh Klinghoffer, Eric Avery and Stephen Perkins from Jane’s Addiction and the greats Mark Giuliana (David Bowie), Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Beck, Mike Patton, QOTSA) and Julien Baker, among others. many others. But the names without a concept that sustains and justifies their presence may not mean anything, something that does not happen at any time in the total number of albums.
At least from an aesthetic point of view, this concept seems to be based on the well-established vocal personality of Tony Wolski, who here he happily transmutes into a sort of bolingo crooner, heir to the most decadent and illustrious voices of British pop in recent decades (Jason Pierce from Spiritualized , Jimi Goodwin of Doves); in their emotionally charged vocalizations and lyrics, “Perfect Saviors” Find your raison d’etre. Because track after track, the instrumental development is dynamic and somehow reaches unexpected extremes -taking into account that they act as the basis of those contagious melodies designed to please-, while the voices remain in total harmony with themselves; sentimental, expressive, shining in the middle of the dust. Thinking in terms of unlikely genres this would be grind-pop.
As noted above, all the songs are equally protagonists in the progress of the album, although some release endorphins in striking ways. “Sport of Measure” opens the way and is a very clear manifesto: Wolski appears sentimental and gallagheresco until a sonata of distortion and noise, like a 90s internet signal, gives way to a denouement of epic guitars and admiring Jane’s Addiction bases. Take a deep breath, this is just beginning.
when you recover from “FKA World” y “Clone” where elegance and blast beat coexist, comes “Everything’s Glitter”. Supposedly inspired by Bowie, it’s the closest thing to an arena rock song the band has ever put out, and the craziest thing about it is that it rocks. “Burned Mind” y “Modern Vanity” give notions of synth pop in their intros and while the first one combines them with quotas of lysergy almost madchesterianathe second adds hardcore screaming in the middle of a kind of blues on fire. “Patient Mind” could be the envy of any successful mid 2000’s band and “Liar 2” brings his dance command impossible to ignore.
But The Armed The best is saved for last to close this trilogy that began with “Only Love” in 2018. “In Heaven” is the height of the unexpected. A post-ballad about transcending the physical that is decorated with whispered harmonies, acoustic guitars and a sax! who comes out winning in a high-risk environment. And in the end, already comfortable with this resounding triumph, they give us “Public Grieving”, which begins very Doves-like, with piano and voice leading, and develops between words of existentialism and a simply brilliant instrumental section that plays erudite jazz. A brooch that transmits experiences; just what happens in all this framework that we have described, in which The Armed explains his own view of pop culture.
Attention to this exhibition because as Wolski declares in a press release, surely everything is done to shit, but in the end it is still beautiful.