Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry, Mastering by Sam Patlove
ARMS lead singer Todd Goldstein, deep set into one of the year's best songs, "Heat & Hot Water," sings, "In the darkness, nothing's gonna ease your worried…," with those dots and that falling off of words, actually and right there in front of you, smack in the middle of the action, and you're swept away. It's then that something of an "ancient terror" that refers to in the subsequent song on the self-titled EP, "High Heels," swoops in and a squall of guitar finishes the thought. It might just be that darkness forming a body and a voice and exposing its mighty self in front of all of the living, flexing. The songs works in a myriad of ways, reaching our hearts and heads with poignant words, a melody so special that it alone deserves its own essay and an arrangement that carries us happily through the clouds. It's a song mostly about the qualities of human perseverance and how glass-like it is - how the same conditions for two people might lead one to consider going up to the top of a very tall building, finding a way out of a window and then taking that step over the ledge into a blackout and a splat, while the other goes on, bravely adjusting. There is the one pointed to in the song, who is "counting sings and taking things as signs" and that person can be seen as the jumper or the one who keeps their feet on the ground, depending on what kind of mood you're in and how you want to see things this day. Something that I learned in a magazine this morning, from magician David Blaine doesn't seem to apply to the world in which Goldstein prefers to look at, or maybe more so, the world behind the curtains that he prefers to look at. Blaine claims that if you place a lighted match at the top of a top of billowing smoke, coming from the end of a just extinguished candle, that the smoke will catch on fire and that fire will travel down the column of smoke, igniting the candle's wick again. It seems that Goldstein might have a hard time believing that without seeing it happen before him. Me might all be so skeptical without proof, but this idea of re-ignition, of getting a second flame to flower where a hot one used to be before turning cold through wind or attrition might not be so damned crazy and the ARMS leader might willingly submit to the hope for it. Again on "Heat & Hot Water," he sings, "Dark never came and we spoke in the scent til we ran out of things to say, oh no/And they served you on a plate/They were frowning and bowing like birds of prey, oh no/I was taking my time when the stars aligned/You were holding my hand like a bottle til it tingled right down to the tips and then it shattered our bones/Are you at peace when you're feeding the beast/Wherever we go/In the darkness, summoned and content to die alone/But other people, in the darkness, cower in their beds and dine alone." It's a beautiful verse and one that's impossible not to sting with so much tragic sweetness. It hints at the impossible bearing that hardship and all of the odds against us will have, but that there are those who decide to ignore all of them and simply get on with it - to hold tight and to continue to defy the inevitable onset of diminishing returns. On "Emily Sue, Part 2," Goldstein offers, "Watching you flicker in real time/And we can't turn it around," and later, a request of sorts, "Fates, give a warm soul to break." He and ARMS suggest that there is an answerable squall to counter all of this.