Best track: into the unknown
click album cover to listen
in this review we'll be delving in to the new 'new arcades' album which has taken a huge 6 years to produce! that takes us back to before their first ever release! it's safe to say the boys have intricately pieced together a magnificent showing here to truly advertise their patience and expertise.
'returning home' is a full-blooded concept album, taking us through a couples' journey...intriguingly with space as our backdrop. introductions don't get much more suited to a concept than 'in the movies' with it's panoramic violin-infused synths getting ever-bigger throughout & layered with a wonderful cosmic bass line. there are subtle hints of some of the best works by hanz zimmer in the film 'interstellar', most notably 'no time for caution' and 'cornfield chase' in this beautiful opener.
from a truly grandeur introduction, we find ourselves tinged with a bit of sadness from their awesome bitter-sweet first single 'into the unknown'. i'm not one for lyrics but the chorus line 'take me with you, i can't do this alone, so far from home' is bound to hit you in the feels. it'll probably conjure up a sad reminder of an arduous long-distance relationship in many a person. so beware, have the tissues ready! Despite the tears, its a ruddy-good choice for the inaugral single.
'if only you could see' is an interesting track in that it's hard to pinpoint its true meaning. You'll notice during an interlude that numbers are being read out and it's clear that they are a recording of an astronaut reading out 'pi' from a previous shuttle launch. But which one? it took a wee while to come up with my best guess but i'd have to go with the 'challenger space shuttle' which of course ended in disaster in 1986 due to faulty o-rings. wait a minute...pi...circles...o-rings. has the proverbial nail just been hit on its head?!
quite a meander there for a review huh? Back to the music it is then. for a band I associate almost entirely with catchy dreampop vocals, they really manage to pack a punch with some extremely well-produced and pure instrumentals. 'solace' and again 'if only you could see' are both points in case. and they seem to be a nod back to some of their earlier work on 'we had it all for just a moment'.
vocals do feature in the majority of tracks which is great because it adds substance to the notion that you can always recognise a 'new arcades' track when you hear one. they really take the vox up a notch in the track 'all i see', a heartfelt synthwave ballad which presented the perfect opportunity for them to really proclaim their voices. And what I've always liked about them is they have a concealed gentleness to them, they're not trying to take up all the space available and push the synths and percussions in to the backdrop.
it doesn't take you long to feel truly involved in this compilation because of the various questions you ask yourself throughout, and it's a characteristic achieved only by some of the greatest artists out there. it came as a huge shock to realise this is their debut album. you forget their huge catalogue is made up of regular singles and EP's. you wouldn't be wrong in thinking that this album was being thought of as they released their first single 'you're all i've got'. infact this track from 2014 wouldn't look out of place on this album.
things wrap up with a triumphant-sounding instrumental called 'returning home'. this track could portray two meanings if it wanted to. the first simply being that the journey you have experienced on our album has come to an end...we hope you enjoyed the ride. but the other possible meaning could be this...'new arcades' have been around for some time now, they've seen and done so many things, but this is their bold statement saying 'we've gone back to our roots, gone full circle and returned home to the things we love most.'. and i for one am up in cloud nine over their decision to revisit the earlier sound.
interestingly, if you cast your minds back to that scene in 'armageddon' where they've just landed back on earth to be greeted by their loved ones (minus Bruce Willis...sob sob), remember it? 'returning home' is uncannily similar to the classical fanfare-laden piece of music used over this scene titled 'landing' by trevor rabin'. something tells me these two love their score musicians!
let me sum up this wondefrul album for you then. it's one hell of a rollercoaster that pulls you in a number of different directions. there is no greater ride than that of love and all the things that come with it; longing, perseverance, obstacles and overcoming them with the highest of highs inevitably being followed by the lowest lows. these experiences are all things that go hand-in-hand with devotion and every song featured seems to reference a different aspect of love which adds further argument to this being a true concept piece. it's got some cracking production throughout and it's safe to say that those six years of tossing and turning have lead to the culmination of their strongest effort to date. bravo houston! Joe ward 9/10
a visual representation of the album:
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