QUICKSPINS: Blink Twice by Arkells

It was to great anticipation that Arkells released their album Blink Twice on Sept. 23. Hailing from Hamilton, Ontario, the Indie band first released their Blink Once LP last year. On their blog, they said that the album was “about resilience. It’s about grieving with loss and fall outs and finding your way back.” 

The last track of Blink Once, “Last Night I Heard ‘Em Sing (Outro)” leads right into Blink Twice’s first track “Reckoning” where the opening lyric goes “Last night, I heard ‘em laughing.” 

Blink Twice uses a lot of synth, coming off as more poppy than indie, though they don’t lose their soul in the mix, which is something that a lot of indie bands lack once they get into a comfortable spot (I’m looking at you Maroon 5 and Coldplay). 

There were a lot of songs on this album that I appreciated on an emotional level. 

The first one has to be “Past Life” because it was a breath of fresh air from the previous track “Reckoning.” Arkells frontman Max Kerman and Cold War Kids frontman Nathan Willett sing this song together.

It feels like an ’80s driving song that mentions Bob Dylan’s son Jakob Dylan from The Wallflowers. My favourite part is when Willett sings “I was born an old soul, / I feel like Bob Dylan’s son, / Always in the shadows.” At first I thought it was a diss to the junior Dylan but in fact Willett has expressed his appreciation for Bob Dylan and his son.

Another track that was on repeat for me was “Miracle” for its grittiness that stood out from the other tracks. Honestly, it felt like the lovechild of Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys) and Paul McCartney, which was an even bigger incentive for me to keep repeating it. 

My least favorite song is “Dance With You” with Cœur de pirate and Aly & AJ because it sounded way too processed for the band, even if it had an emphasized groovy funk line. Too poppy for my taste, sorry Arkells.

Besides the aforementioned features, there are many other artists in this LP: pop duo Tegan and Sara, Wesley Schultz of The Lumineers, Joel Plaskett, Jake Clemons and Lights.   

Do I like the new Arkells? Yes, with an asterisk. While they kept to their roots, there were some songs that could have been less processed, pop oriented and quantized. Could be better. 

Trial Track: Past Life (Feat. Cold War Kids)

Rating: 6.5/10       

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