Andrew Arnold has a great many super powers, beyond always being called first in an alphabetical situation. For one, he can drop an album that managed to surprise me. He can transcend genres and bend the rules to his will and he does all of this on his lonesome in his new album What's Inside's Outside. Arnold has been involved with several Melbourne bands and is now taking a step out on his own. For some reason, I always have good luck with this narrative. I have come across several musicians in this job who have tried their hand at working with several bands and then manage to land gracefully into a solid solo project. I couldn't be happier to add Arnold to this list.
The opening track is "Plans" and it's powerful in a very motivational way. It establishes the unique sound Arnold has at play and also conveys a burst of strong and grounded emotion. It's a sweet and rural sort of set up which makes the next track "Cold Hands" so jarring. This track opens with a mechanical synth aesthetic. It's a stark contradiction, but I wasn't opposed to the idea of this sharp turn. The song itself may not have exactly rung my bell, but it was none the less fascinating.
"Little Boats" takes you back to that rural motif that reflects what was going on "Plans." Although I would say this song is more whimsical and quirky, it takes flight. It's dreamy, and yet there are some sour notes in there that keep it from being too naive.
I appreciate the song "Seasons" for being unpredictable. At the start I thought I was getting another, dreamy lo-fi experience like "Little Boats" but if stacked up on a curious rhythm that kept it charming. "Once In A While" is the closer and it ends on a sweet, climactic note that points toward indie or math rock, but honestly could settle anywhere across the genre spectrum.
Arnold is a risk taker, although there were times I got the sense he was holding back. It felt like there some big ideas that were shrunk down a bit. If I had one criticism it would be that he shouldn't be afraid to go more with his instincts. "Cold Hands" was such a big risk, a true curve ball, and then that caliber of plot twist sort of withered. However I could sense that instinct was there.
This is a cool indie something album, again, he transcends so many genres I honestly don't have the heart to pigeon hole it. I like Arnold's point of view. It's messy and unrefined and somehow it holds together very well. This album definitely feels like the start of something, the tip of the iceberg. I get the sense there is so much more he wants to say, and I hope he has the opportunity to say it all.
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