Arc of Manapples: Green, Gold (album)
Review by Graham Chalmers
If Pete Townsend of The Who was The Seeker, Jeremy Grove of Arc of Manapples is all at sea.
Unlike many people, he knows it. What’s more, he’s not lost as such, he’s on a voyage of discovery in life and music.
And he’s getting better at it with every passing year.
The improvements to this long-standing Harrogate rock trio have been gradual, almost imperceptible except to the seasoned ear.
So, once again, there’s Jez’s two-tiered guitar sound, deep on the bottom, trebly on top, Dan Fozard’s cavernous bass and James Sant’s thudding drums.
What’s new, what makes the pulsating opening two tracks Death Has Begun and Go Green, Gold lodge in the brain so quickly, is that everything now seems better played by this tight ensemble, more melodic, perfectly weighted.
This is especially so when it comes to the vocals. Jez’s throaty warble was once an acquired taste, surviving on a trademark bitter honesty.
Now he sings with control and precision and, on track four, Blue Believers, real delicacy.
As a band, Arc of Manapples have always created a special alt-rock blend of their own, one part The Who, one part grunge and one part rippling, dark psychedelia.
But they also boast the slovenly, easy charm of The Replacements, the sharpness of Neil Young and the pop skills of Elvis Costello, not to mention occasional nice trickles of Americana keyboards from drummer Sant.
Without fanfare, Arc of Manapples have quietly become an accomplished band branching out where they feel.
Track five, Whitewash is nearly a singalong. Track eight, Land of the Strange is a straight-out catchy toe-tapper.
By the time you arrive at the final track on this adventurous album, called, appropriately, To Explore, two things are clear about Arc of Manapples.
Where they are now is truly impressive. But if they keep on travelling, there may be even better things round the corner.