The Arrivals – Volatile Molotov

This is the only Arrivals record I’ve ever listened to. I got onto it by listening to Anxious & Angry and instantly loved it, I believe they played the last song, ‘Simple Pleasures In America’, which is the most different song on the record, but I loved the whole thing. I’m not too sure what is going on in the cover but it seems to be a portrait of a family, holding up black and white masks of who I assume to be the band members (?). There seems to be some relevance, however, as the back of the record sleeve has the portrait, stripped down to outlines, each numbered or lettered. Names associated to the letters on the image confirm the masks are the band members, and it seems the 13 items in the image somehow relate to the 13 songs on the album. Weird, yes; but probably not unexpected from what is essentially a pre-apocalyptic punk record (that is; describing the apocalypse).

The album starts off quick and punchy with “Two Years” setting the apocalyptic trend early with the opening line of the entire album “We got two more solid years, before the bottom drops out and the slate has been wiped clear. The craft girls make it through, they’re going to know just what to do.” The latter part of that lyric referencing a belief that technology will fail, leaving only those that know how to make things able to survive (learnt from Anxious & Angry interview with Little Dave Merriman). It’s about this point of the review that I discover reviewing while listening to a vinyl isn’t appropriate; its far too much effort to re-listen to specific bits of songs. I do love when a band, comedian, or anyone really, makes fun of the church and The Arrivals successfully do that with the lyric “there’s a book of what to do, and here comes part two!” suggesting this album is as useful as the bible in an apocalypse. The second song on the album, “The New Gold Standard” addresses the death of the music industry and how this is being brought about by technology with lyrics such as “Son, don’t learn to write a song, it’s just a modern disgrace. When some can write an algorithm matching music to taste.” and suggests that we’ll all wake up to hear ‘the new gold standard’.

Moving through the motions of predicting an apocalypse in the first half of the album, things get more dire in the second half with song 7 prophesying that “The Power Won’t Be Staying on For Long”. Musically, the song is more stripped back and really highlights the lyrics. The song encourages the listener to talk to their loved ones because the power won’t be staying on for long, and while this fits the theme of the record it is just as much good life advice, never knowing what is around the corner. Moving into the following song, “Frontline”, the mood seems to be uplifted somewhat, with a more poppy, happy sounding song. Perhaps this is an endeavour at propaganda as the song recounts a story of being forcibly enlisted to the army; “They lined up al us school boys and they asked for volunteers and who no one don’t say nothing, they said YOU!”. Momentum builds as the vocals get louder, faster and more urgent as it recounts being put on the frontline, before becoming more like propaganda, sounding happy while singing “They kept me full of cocaine, and they taught me how to fuck and they made me feel like I’d feel almost nothing. And we killed all through the daytime, and we killed them in the night.” Again, the vocals build in urgency to a point where it feels like the character is going to break, at which point the song ends and I must say it has been a brilliant musical/lyrical arrangement.

In the interest of brevity, I’ll skip through the second half of the album to land on the final song of the album; “Simple Pleasures in America”. This discussion may be lyric heavy, but that’s only because it really deserves a listen. This is the song that I first heard and essentially got me into The Arrivals. It is a total step away from the apocalyptic nature of the album and encourages the listener to be grateful for what they have in the present time. The song is born of a conversation with a friend who questioned “why’s it always gotta be just a sad sad song, someone’s falling apart, it’s always not enough money and too much heart”. Essentially, what follows this question is a positive song that lists out what each band member is grateful for in their life and in America, such as “I like to go that extra mile to turn your frown into a smile”, “I just wanna drink some whiskey and hang with good company” and “I like not having to worry about rationed electricity”. It’s not uncommon for punk songs to have a problem with the state of technology or to acknowledge ‘first world problems’ but what is unique is to point out the little positives that exist and how lucky many of us are. It’s not much, but it’s a little bit to remember that sometimes small wins aren’t so small.


Matt Power
2 March 2018

Full Disclosure

Feeling Tired
Drinking Kaiju Krush! Tropical Ale (x1)
Recent Listening Brian Fallon
How I Listened Modern Vinyl (legacy turntable)

The Arrivals Volatile Molotov

Artist The Arrivals
Album Volatile Molotov
Released 5 October 2010
Label Recess Records
Tracks 13
Run Time 37 minutes
Genre Indie Punk

The Arrivals Volatile Molotov