The Arrivals - Exsenator Orange (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Arrivals

Exsenator Orange (2003)


This band is too good for pop-punk.

No, seriously. Pop-punk bands are supposed to write cheesy songs about girls and masturbation [and I'm talking about the Queers, not Blink-182, so unbunch your panties]. Everyone I know that's ever heard of this band says they're a pop-punk band, but each time I listen to it, I just can't believe it. There's just too much talent here. Each of the 12 songs on this disc are gritty and dirty as the south side of Chicago, and I can't find a single song that depends on solely three chords.

The band lays all their cards out on the table within the first three songs. The opener, "Dar La Luz," is a speedy romp through the band's arsenal of rumbling drums and power chord after power chord. "Born With A Broken Heart" takes things up another notch, with vocalist Issac bemoaning the song's title as fast as he can, barely even fitting all the words in the phrase. "Analee" rounds out the trio, and shows the band's poppier side. This song [along with "Dirty Inches"] was previously released on the Northern Hospitality EP, but it still sounds fresh and catchy. I love how deceivingly simplistic the guitar solo is.

And that's pretty much the formula for the rest of the CD. Every other track fits into one of those three molds - fast and fairly poppy, really fast and gruff, or midtempo and really poppy. But then right when you figure the band out, they throw in something like a cowbell ["Design"] or a sendoff to bands like Leatherface and the punkier side of Hot Water Music ["Shouting Fire"]. This band's darts are flying through the air every which way, but they all seem to connect with the bullseye eventually.

So why am I giving it only a 7? Because I'm still having a hard time overcoming the pop punk stigma placed upon them by so many reviewers before me. They shouldn't be this versatile; they shouldn't be this adept lyrically; they shouldn't be this good!

Other than that, my only real complaint is the lack of album artwork. The group's first CD, "Goodbye New World," has absolutely fantastic art for their lyrics, and it could easily stand alone from the rest of the CD as a piece of art itself. With this disc, the liner notes are sparse, and the color minimal. Just another way the Arrivals deceive you.