Son’s Arcade – Picturesque EP

For various reasons, I’ve got horribly backlogged up with those reviews I promised myself I’d write, but on the bright side being a little late means I get to see how well received certain tracks are. With Leeds based Son’s Arcade, and their bitingly fresh new EP Picturesque, I would not have immediately predicted that Taxi Man would be the one with almost 10,000 Spotify hits in just 7 days.  To be honest, this is such a consistent and strong EP, I think any of them might have flown.  

Taxi Man is one of the harder, ballsy tracks on the EP, but it has that Son’s Arcade knack of having a special sense of a vocal which coils itself around the musical body of the track. It’s like an ivy on a tree where both are intertwined to the end of days. Son’s Arcade with just five Spotify tracks under their belt already have that rare quality to produce music that just fits instinctively together. Meanwhile the lyrics come from a band that seriously have something to say. So, the nation has plumbed for heavy duty Son’s Arcade and Taxi Man, and it’s a great choice.

I spoke with lead singer and lyricist Sam Hutchinson about what it might be about Taxi Man. Sam told me that they knew from the off that the song is very upbeat and energetic that would catch the ear of our audience and the band felt it was one of their strongest songs. However, they totally didn’t expect the reception it has got.

The track on the EP that I instinctively fell for on my first listen is Golden Saints. I’m always drawn to a strong vocal, and like with Taxi Man, Sam’s vocals here are imploring to be heard. Here they glide through the song, while there’s an urgent impatient guitar pushing the tune along. I describe Taxi Man as hard, but Golden Saints isn’t much of a grade below gritstone here either. Fans of the likes of the Arctic Monkeys, Catfish and Stereophonics would definitely be comfortable here, but there’s a fresher sound. These guys also blend in a bit more rootsy hard and flowing R&B into the mix in places. Sam’s vocals are going to be timeless and distinctive as he and the band progress.

I know after chatting to Sam about his solo single right at the start of the year, that he is such a thoughtful and strong lyricist. That song, Your Soul, is a vulnerable and sensitive tune with a story based upon the death of a young guy in a car crash and the thoughts that he and his close ones were going through. Sam finished the tune after having a bad crash of his own. I wanted to ask him about what drove him to write for the tracks on this EP.

“I’ve always been into storytelling and descriptive/creative writing.

The songs are usually about and experience in my life that I’ve got done on paper. Very raw very personal but easy for the listener to turn into a feeling of their own.

One line in the EP I wrote and reflected on would be “I’ll make sure to open window, it’s time that I got out” (in the song Time I Got Out) it’s a summary of people who say they will do something and only really half achieve it, the song is about a breakup and having to still live with that person and how instead of making a decision to leave and move on, the attempt would be to open a window, insinuating that the person will settle with the window being opened as an escape route opposed to leaving completely”.

That track Time I Got Out is unsurprisingly another incredibly strong vibe with perhaps a slightly rockier edge behind that nicely choppy guitar, and while there is a lovely long free flow of tune in the verse, there is a slightly more subdued feel. Indeed, it has the feel of a conflicted soul.   

The remainder of the tracks most definitely deserve more than a footnote; Your Drunken Mouth is a solid rocker which was Son’s Arcade’s debut and sadly released just 3 days before lockdown last year. Tell Me About It meanwhile was one of my personal favourite tracks of last year, and it is a killer tune with a wonderful flowing tune and a lyric personal to Sam but totally relatable, and which perhaps set the scene for this set of tunes packed with emotion we all can recognise. With Sam’s vocals and that lovely twisting tune, Tell Me About It, might sound a bit like what might happen if Kelly Jones joined Arctic Moneys (Arctic Phonics? Stereo Keys?)    

Given we are free to listen and dance (well, OK, not quite dance yet), I wanted to finally ask Sam whether given the long release date on this EP whether there was more music incoming.  

“We’re constantly writing and creating, like I’ve said before we’re a band that likes to keep the tap dripping in terms of producing music. We’re focusing on gigs this summer but music making will always be going on in the background”.

The first of these is a gig at the Otley Taphouse this Friday 11 June.  

Chris R 

* images have been taken from the band’s own social media.         

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