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ARX – ARX

15/04/2014 By Chris Kuzmiski

Only six months into it and Arx already have a pleasantly well-developed mini-album ready for you.

What we have here is that tried and tested formula of gospel, blues and garage rock. Fortunately they weave it in a way that is neither overly predictable nor overly American. In fact, it’s the overall Britishness that could be Arx’s secret weapon. There is a steely determination to achieve high-caliber emotion, which they achieve without ever descending into the cheese that being in California can inspire. Said emotional outpouring is courtesy of singer/guitarist Hannah Pidduck. Who sounds earnest and studied, but without the contrived trappings of a stage school education. Basically, there is still lots of grit there to get your teeth into.

It kicks off splendidly with the stomping ‘She’s My Demon’. A spiky convolution of ‘Rolling in the Deep’ that serves up perfectly just what you get from the rest of the album: surprisingly distinct dynamics for a two-piece, exacting drums and pulpit backing vocals – courtesy of drummer/vocalist Kate Salt.

Having already been put out as a single in the summer, the next logical release for ARX would be the quirky but determined ‘Long Road to Nowhere’. There’s a stadium friendly chorus there to keep your mind busy for the rest of your life.

‘Cold Water’ is the darkest offering here. A spiralling gothic drama that benefits greatly from a thundering bass in the chorus.

The only weak moment is the slightly out of place ‘Morning’s By My Side’, which gets a little bit too ‘adult contemporary’. Fortunately Hannah has the lung capacity to carry it off, but it does highlight that Arx’s strengths lie in stompy anthems or crack-of-the-whip melodrama.

On the whole this is an impressive beginning which demonstrates fierce ambition and mature songwriting skills. The added studio gadgetry really fills out the sound of the two-piece and there is a coherent diversity other bands would kill for. If they rein in their strengths they’ll be deadly.

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