Los Angeles’s White Arrows is a band joyfully stuck at a musical crossroads, slaving away to combine elements of electronica, pop, garage, tribal rhythms, and beyond into one danceable concoction.
When their resulting debut LP, Dry Land Is Not a Myth, distills those influences successfully, it yields cuts like “Coming or Going”, “I Can Go”, and “Settle Down”. The latter is powered by a glitch-y synth line that’s so alluring, it’s bound to unleash a pandemic of disco fever. Pair that with the simple message of being lovesick over an irrational, inconsistent girl, delivered with the sweet ache of falsetto vocals, and you’ve got a solid gold winner.
“I Can Go” rockets across the musical spectrum, skillfully fusing Southern and arena rock. Here, the quasi-ambient sprawl of ’70s rock does an outstanding job of adding volume to the quaint, folky groove of some forgotten Stephen Stills cut. It’s a mighty order for any band, but the group handles it with grace and determination, leaving room for both sensibilities to shine. “Settle Down” accomplishes a similar feat, but it’s less expansive than its compatriot, focusing more on a simpler, rollicking energy. It does, however, enthusiastically demonstrate what could prove to be the band’s strongest suit: an understanding and exceptional execution of restraint and subtlety.
Despite the successful musical navigation, there are moments on the record where the band loses its way slightly. Album opener “Roll Forever” does its best to strike a balance between the slow-building ecstasy of Animal Collective and a more straightforward, overly emotional pop love song. Though it merits an A for effort, the whole affair doesn’t have enough of either sound’s strengths to truly enthrall. “Sail On” has all the right parts to be successful: a chunky guitar line and saccharine synth part that merge together for a more intricate blend of electropop made famous by The Postal Service. Yet the track just feels flat, forced, and too mute to really sink its claws in deep enough.
While those missteps aren’t album-ruining, they are indicative that the band has more miles to accrue and formula tweaking to accomplish. Still, they’ve offered enough of a spellbinding blend to indicate they know which route they’ve got to take.
Essential Tracks: “Coming or Going”, “I Can Go”, and “Settle Down”