Four of Arrows is an album filled with deeply emotional themes. Great Grandpa has stepped it up in their sophomore album, hitting their stride and then some, evolving into a more sophisticated sound. Heavy-hitting emotions are tackled with profound maturity and sincerity. Carried by the versatile vocals of Alexe Menne and her keen ability to move from soft quavers to full howls, each track carries with it a heartfelt layer of depth on top of the poetic lyricism. Instrumentation is grandiose and the song structures don’t hold back, going as full as possible without being overbearing. You can hear influences ranging from 90’s alt pop to math rock and emo, but combined in a concoction that’s uniquely theirs. A mark of a band that’s truly confident with their sound.
In the opening “Dark Green Water”, pain is inspected in a refreshingly mature lens with the line “No perfection can ever bring joy”. Looking into the instances of joy and suffering and reflecting on how these moments are crucial. “Digger” is full of dramatic tension. With a somber minor riff cradling Menne’s vulnerable voice. This 90’s-inspired rock track mixes Alanis Morisette’s attitude with Sarah McLachlan’s angelic tone. The song goes through several movements with its conflicting choruses: “That’s why I hate you / That’s why I love you” and ends in an epic outro of sweeping guitar riffs.
You might do a double take with “Mono no Aware” but it’s actually a Japanese phrase about the pathos of things, and in this tune the feeling is perfectly reflected. It’s about the sad remembrance of how things used to be, and how they’ll never be the same again – “It reminds me of my failing grasp of the present, memory, self and past”. “Bloom” is the brightest track in this whole collection. The 90’s influence creeps in again and this time it’s a blend of The Corrs and Third Eye Blind. Encouraging you to stop feeling anxious about how your life is going and “Step into whatever you want to / Let your spirit bloom”.
The hardest-hitting tracks are at the tail end of the record. “Human Condition” is an inspection of what it is to be. A track that could just save you from your teenage woes. The kind of thing a big sister or brother would say to take you out of a bind: “Don’t let life take your hard work / I know you feel done but you’re still so young.” It’s encouraging enough to lift you out of it but the melodies remain sympathetic, letting you know you’re not alone. “Split up the kids” is a same-day delivery straight to the feels. It depicts the arrangement that broken families are forced to go through, where the kids split up along with the parents. The somber acoustic guitar and ghostly harmonies ring with each line. Great Grandpa delvers a straight gut punch. Their openness to look at heavy themes and ability to illustrate this through their music makes Four of Arrows a must listen.
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