One of punk’s most intriguing bands, The Armed, is coming back strong with their newest album, ULTRAPOP. The band is notorious for messing with the audience and the press; this includes fake band members (meaning people who are definitely NOT in the band) giving interviews, deceiving the audience or just generally being indescribable, really. The only thing that is probably right, they are from Detroit and they do feature guest collaborators a lot.
Researching the band feels almost like going down the Rabbit hole; one article links to another to another to some site to a post, so forth and so forth. Their style is never really the same either. It’s just hard to put the finger on it, something which makes The Armed one of the most exciting hardcore bands at the moment.
The album begins with the title track “ULTRAPOP.” At this point, a fair warning for everyone with pets, don’t listen to it on your speakers when your pet is around; they will get scared, so will you. The song starts with loud noises and high pitches, ultimately leading to choir-like vocals, almost like pure chaos in heaven.
The chaos continues in songs like “MASUNAGA VAPORS.” The song is all-consuming and is a perfect way to silence every thought in the listener’s head and replace it with sound. It feels like a complete explosion of instruments and vocals. “A LIFE SO WONDERFUL” contains the anarchy of sound a little. The vocals shine through a little more and a melody is detectable, but don’t think The Armed are in any shape or form tamed. They do their own thing, and it is so enjoyable not to know what the next song is going to be like, and “AN ITERATION” is a perfect example of that. The song was previously released and offered a great taste for the audience. The guitars and funky vibes are paired with the nonchalant and relatively clear vocals.
“AVERAGE DEATH” features some interesting techno elements that give the song an almost creepy feeling that leads to a totally different style. “WHERE MAN KNOWS WANT” features some indie-rock elements like the Arctic Monkeys, but they get washed away from time to time with a wall of overwhelming noise leading right into the next track, “REAL FOLK BLUES.” But “BAD SELECTION” really surprises again. It is a little slower than the rest of the songs and reminds a little of early YouTube and the weird songs that came out of it, like Mr.Weebly.
Like the band themselves, ULTRAPOP is incredibly hard to describe. The songs don’t follow a certain pattern. They are not really comparable. It’s like some movies you just have to see to understand what they are about. ULTRAPOP is an album people have to listen to before one can really understand it. It’s art, its chaos, it’s anarchy and yet it’s none of it. It feels like these songs just kind of happened, that they aren’t written; they just made up on the spot, and nobody will ever be able to exactly do them like that ever again. This is probably one of the most punk things in forever.