Katherine Anne Porter had it right. The American journalist, novelist and Pulitzer Prize winner once said “There seems to be a kind of order in the universe, in the movement of the stars and the turning of the earth and the changing of the seasons, and even in the cycle of human life. But human life itself is almost pure chaos.” She is further quoted as saying “Human life itself may be almost pure chaos, but the work of the artist…is to take these handfuls of confusion and disparate things, things that seem to be irreconcilable, and put them together in a frame to give them some kind of shape and meaning.”
So to extrapolate a bit from that, it would seem logical that chaos + talent = art. And maybe you might buy into the notion that life – art = chaos. But I would say a true balance between chaos and art would equal beauty. However, if beauty is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder, it is up to the individual to determine whether it is artful or chaotic. And that’s why some music works for some people and not for others. Hey, just a theory. And it’s also a pretty roundabout way of getting into the review of the Arbor Glades EP “Coming Home.”
The first song on the EP is called “It Can’t Be.” It’s a poppy, energetic, effervescent little number driven by some good keyboard work as well as solid bass and drumming. This sounds and feels like Metro music, bouncing from off the walls of the city as opposed to ringing through the dells in the country. The vocals are steady if a little on the hollow side. That isn’t a knock against the singer; it’s just that the vocalist does not have one of those voices which belts out a song in the same manner as a typical Blues artist for example. This music is just a different kind of animal. The musicianship is solid, and in the frame of the song the vocals do fit nicely.
“Skywalker” is the next track, and has a New Wave-y feel to it. The instrumentation holds the tune together like glue, with some nice drumming, bass and guitar work. I want to hear a stronger performance from the vocalist just to see what is there in terms of a range. That could be a personal fault, and if it is, I will readily cop to it. I find sometimes that I really need to be dragged along by the singer as if they are a tour guide through the miniature art gallery that is any given song.
The third song, titled “Along,” gives the listener a treat because the voice of the singer stands out more, and that makes this a more likeable song in my estimation. There is a nice balance achieved by the bass and drums here, which also works for me. Lyrically the track does not overachieve, but in poppier numbers it rarely does, so that’s a bit of a saw off. I would rate this tune as one of the strongest on the EP, though.
“Choose Words” is an even more poppy number. It’s got a good beat, you can dance to it. There is an undeniable catchiness to this song, in the same way there was with certain songs from The Cure or even See Spot Run. The instrumentation is nearly flawless here and the vocals light and airy. This seems the most radio-ready track on the EP in my opinion.
The fifth and final song on the “Coming Home” EP is the title track. There seems to be more in the way of depth in this tune, along with it conveying a sense of yearning. This song stands up the best to multiple listenings and is almost a departure in terms of style, although it certainly doesn’t venture far from the perimeter. I enjoyed the drumming and guitar work as well as the nice bass break. This is also a case where the vocals work well to give the song a firm base of emotion.
While I must admit this EP is not exactly my cup of tea, it is not without merit and I am certain it will find an audience. Arbor Glades have definitely taken the chaotic and shaped it into their own form of art. This is the band’s view of life, and there is value in that. The trick will be finding others who share that view and getting them to come on board. That will be the stepping stone towards achieving Arbor Glades’ universal order.
Check them out for yourself at http://arborglades.bandcamp.com/
Top Tracks: “Coming Home;” “Along;” “Choose Words”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)