Anchors For Arms – Listen.React
Great musicality in a pop-punk/emo package.
It’s hard not to think that you’ve heard all this before when you pop in Anchors for Arms’ debut album, Listen.React. The band tends to tread the road more traveled. The band doesn’t separate itself from the crowd in an already overcrowded pop-punk genre with their debut, but the band does do the genre better than many who try. Even so, one can’t help but feel that the music is rather generic.
Musically, the band displays a lot of talent. Guitarists Chris Sanders and Kenny Donovan pull off some impressive riffs and great crunching rhythms. Drummer Matt Valenzuela rides the cymbals and the bass drum like a cowboy, giving the music a furious energy suitable to the band’s lyrics. Bassist/vocalist Ryan Lawless is quite good on the bass and while vocally he hits all the right notes in all the right places, his voice seems too cut and paste. You could take any decent singer from any decent pop-punk or emo band and it would work just as well.
The band does churn out a few memorable tracks, like “Machines,” which had me singing along before I’d finished listening to it for the first time. The ballad “No Gravity” shows a noticeably more melodic side of the band and features some of the more impressive lyrics of the album. “On” stands out particularly for its distinct guitar riffs. The final track, “Kingdom Came (It Looks Like We’re On Our Own),” ends the album on a high note with some spot-on vocal harmonies and an unusually infectious rhythm.
Anchors For Arms displays talent and potential with Listen.React, but ultimately, their songwriting style leaves them falling in line with the hordes of other pop-punk/emo bands out there that have already found their time in the sun. This is a band that would likely benefit greatly from becoming a little more experimental with its music. They can stick with the pop-punk/emo formula, but there’s still room to make it sound distinct from the other bands out there. If they do, it could really be something special.