Your Wate And Fate
Curve Of The Earth
By: Eric Greenwood
In the fifteen months since I happened to catch Araby opening a show in its hometown of Boston, Massachusetts, its self-released, three-song demo has rarely left my rotation. The quartet's haunting and complex music is nothing short of stunning, but, at first, the dueling vocalists' high-end falsettos put me off. At the same time, I was unable to stop listening. Something latent just kept pulling me back to those three songs. Eventually, the vocal melodies won me over to the point where I couldn't imagine the music without them, and now I am a converted and devoted spreader of the good word.
Your Wate And Fate is Araby's debut full-length, which is mind-boggling considering how accomplished the music is and the fact that the band has only been around for two years. Araby's intricate guitar interplay is spliced with jazzy arrangements and a charged undercurrent of post-punk bass and drums. All of the songs are dark and sprawling and colored with cryptic lyrics that are delivered with Byrds-esque vocal harmonies. Guitarist Cliff Rawson's voice is the more dominant of the two, and his range is astounding. He has such a pure and clear tenor, and it soars above the complicated riffage seemingly effortlessly.
Araby wears its influences on its sleeve. Everything from Polvo to The Beatles to Blonde Redhead to Simon And Garfunkel to Fugazi is easily discerned, yet none of it really pigeonholes the band or pins it down. Araby's talent is so obvious and so overwhelming that only a lazy listener would write the band off as imitators. Your Wate And Fate begins with a breathtakingly jubilant riff. "This Is How" is so busy that it takes your brain a few seconds to comprehend all that is happening, but it never sounds cluttered or forced. Every note is perfectly planned. The vocals surge with the guitars, only to break away dramatically at points of tension and then liltingly lead you back into the chorus. It'll make the tiny hairs on your neck bolt upright. I cannot stress enough how good it is.
"Everything I Say You Are" flashes its Polvo badge several times, but Polvo never had harmonies- much less ones this remotely captivating. The vocal melodies are as complicated and intricate as the guitar work itself, which is just unthinkable. It's easy to try to dismiss Araby's vocal stylings as fey or emasculating, but the music rocks hard enough to counterbalance any feelings of male inadequacy one might have. Chances are, if you have a mullet, you wouldn't appreciate Araby, anyway, nor would you, for that matter, be reading this now. The type of pretentiousness inherent to Araby's enigmatic schtick is easily overlooked when the songwriting is this absurdly good.
Araby's fearlessness is also to be admired. The alluring "Truth To Tell" is both eerie and sublime. It oozes with a dark sexual confidence just like Jeff Buckley once did, but you could forgive him because he pulled it off so well. It's amazing what pretty boy good looks and a honey-coated throat will excuse. Araby is a little too weird to be quite so suave, but the musical daring is there. Rawson's playful half-whisper ("your most favorite toy…how'd you pay for it?") would be embarrassing coming out of anyone else's mouth, but he goes for it with gusto and a ridiculously gorgeous voice that hits notes that bands like Dream Theater would sell their families into slavery for.
The way the vocals entwine on "Ringside" is jaw dropping. The stilted, repetitive guitar riff that opens the song is steamrolled by a rollicking bass line reminiscent of something The Smiths might have done. Rawson's two masters degrees in jazz guitar from Berklee make sense of how such seamless arrangements flow so naturally. The song is vibrant and vital, alternating between extreme lows and highs both musically and vocally. The epic "Fake It/Crave It" benefits greatly from the leap in sound quality of the demo compared to the full-length. A bit of musical re-working adds to the after-bite as well. The guitars swell into Led Zeppelin-style histrionics but never cross the line into masturbatory self-indulgence. And, once again, the vocals will just blow your mind.
The amount of potential that Araby demonstrates on this debut cannot be overstated. From the musicianship to the songwriting right down to the presentation of the artwork, Araby stakes its claim on an extremely bright future. This is a band that will create amazing things, if given the chance to explore its instincts. All I can do is to urge you to discover it for yourself.
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