The Ark – Prayer For The Weekend
The Ark are the best band you’ve never heard of, and they prove it again with their fourth album, Prayer For The Weekend. This Swedish glam power pop band is enormous in their homeland, but surprisingly unknown in the rest of the world. It’s a shame, because Prayer is about as perfect as contemporary pop-rock can be.
As with past outings, the band borrows heavily from the glam sound of the mid-seventies and mixes it with the dance floor flourish of new wave and disco. This creates a diverse album where “The Worrying Kind”, an old-school glam pop number in the vein of Abba’s “Waterloo”, gels perfectly with the dark Depeche Mode stomp of “Little Dysfunk You”, which also happens to wield one of the album’s best choruses. In fact, Prayer may as well be one long, catchy chorus. Throughout the years, the band has heightened its sound to a level of grandeur usually reserved for stadiums. The bombastic first single, “Absolutely No Decorum” is the best example of this found here. Opening with a heavenly choir of voices, it soon bursts into a galloping verse and never lets up from there. Also stunning is “Death to the Martyrs”, a highlight of the second half of the album. It sounds at first like “Bang a Gong” era T.Rex until the boy’s choir comes in at the chorus, singing the refrain (which just happens to be “you sorry ass”) with gleeful delight. It is the ultimate over-the-top moment in an album full of them. In other words, it’s what great pop music should sound like.
There really isn’t a misstep to be found on Prayer For The Weekend. There are some experiments for sure (the hymnal sway of “Gimme Love To Give” and the electro samba of “Thorazine Corazon” being the most obvious), but the strongest tracks end up being the kind the band has always excelled at. “New Pollution”, a catchy rocker that borrows a bit from The Who’s rock opera “Tommy”, lays clear the band’s mantra. In one of the best choruses you’ll hear all year, front man Ola Salo passionately warns us that “it’s gonna be a hairspray revolution!” Amen to that.