Man… what the hell’s going on up in Chicago lately? First there’s that whole Alkaline Trio/Honor System/Lawrence Arms axis, and now here’s The Arrivals, the latest (but far from least) of the smart, catchy pop-punk the Windy City’s been producing lately. There’s an old-school sound here, but not of the 1-2-3-let’s-go variety—these guys are students of the ‘80s breed of pop-punk, exemplified by folks like Hüsker Dü and Naked Raygun, spliced together with some rockabilly-ish snottiness a la Social Distortion. The result is some fine raw, melodic rock that has to be heard to be believed; my foot just won’t stop tapping.
Tracks like “Bottle Song”, “Elise”, and “Manifesto” are full-speed blasts that Bob Mould & Co. could’ve been proud of, while “Chinese New Year” and “The Barter” make me think of nothing more than vintage Pogues with distortion pedals (I swear, vocalist Isaac Thomas sounds frighteningly like Shane MacGowan at a few points). “Tornado” and “Surf Riot” are both slight departures from the rest of the album—the former has a sort of spaghetti Western feel to it, and “Riot” is, well, punky surf-rock, and then “Last Lullaby” and “Back Seat Driver” ride the Social Distortion train all the way home. Put it all together, and this thing burns from beginning to end, barely giving time to breathe between one fiery burst and the next.