Anchors for Arms - Listen.React
Record Label: Lobster Records
Release Date: October 23, 2007
Anchors for Arms are a band whose name I have previously seen mentioned every now and then, enough for me to know when the release of their debut album Listen.React was imminent. The general vibe I got from this was one of high praise and excitement; I looked into the band and found they are a technical pop punk band in the vein of Rufio. With that in mind I told myself I’d be sure to give the album a look whenever it was eventually released. Since that time I have heard nary a word pertaining to Anchors for Arms, and as such the band completely slipped out of my mind. The name popped up again about a month ago, and out of curiosity I decided to give Listen.React a listen to see if I could find out why a band that had created such anticipation for their album has turned completely invisible.
From the beginning of the opener “The Roots” it is clear the comparisons to Rufio and Over It are not far off. In fact, musically, there is really nothing to distinguish them from their peers. This is unfortunate but not completely surprising. It is not exactly rare for a band to ride solely on the strength of their vocalist and their ability to write catchy hooks. As “The Roots” continues onward, however, there is a noticeable lack of either of these redeeming features. Singer Ryan Lawless sounds as if he has just awakened from his afternoon nap and mumbles his way throughout the entirety of Listen.React. Not once is there anything resembling energy in his voice, which in turn saps the ardor from the rest of the band making for some very insipid songs. There are plenty of gang vocals spread across the record, but they too seem to be infused with this lackadaisical approach.
All of this is readily apparent from the very first song. Of course, there’s always the hope that “The Roots” is merely a weak opener and the band has no where to go but up from there, right? Wrong. The following two songs do absolutely nothing to break from the mold created by the first song and serve to cement Anchor for Arms’ sound into the listeners mind. Generally speaking, it is safe to abandon the album if it has held no interest up to this point. From my experience bands do not tend to change all that much from track three on. But, as I intended to review the album, I plunged onward and gave the following songs multiple chances to spark some sort of interest.
With all that said, track four “No Gravity” does have a huge shift in momentum. Maybe now the band has built up some steam and will synch up accordingly? Nope. Apparently it is now time for the rest of the band to go take that nap Lawless had and let the vocals take center stage. Unsurprisingly, this is a failure of epic proportions as it takes away the only likable aspect of the band. Fortunately the band picks the tempo back up for their remaining songs, but the damage done by “No Gravity” kills what little momentum the band had, and they have to start back at square one. What follows are songs that are all fairly similar to the first few tracks, though I was a bit surprised by the relatively strong finish to the album. “Beyond All Doubt, Hope Lies To Us All,” and closer “Kingdom Came (It Looks Like We’re on Our Own” are the only songs from Listen.React which seem to have any emotion to them and consequently are not terrible songs. This leads me to believe there is at least some potential here and the people who had been anticipating this record weren’t completely unwarranted.
Anchors for Arms are a band that fails to even be a completely derivative yet somewhat enjoyable band. If the band had even an ounce of the energy contained in a typical A Wilhelm Scream album, then Listen.React would improve exponentially. But they don’t, and as such it is not at all surprising the album has gone more or less completely unnoticed as well as ignored by those who had been previously interested in the band. Whether or not this is typical of the band remains to be seen; it is possible their live shows amounts to a very different experience. But, solely based on listening to Listen.React, I am not exactly looking forward to seeing what this band does in the future.