The Arbitrarys - Anticipation Is Destination (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Arbitrarys

Anticipation Is Destination (2007)


At the end of the world, only three things will remain for certain: cockroaches, Twinkies, and coffee shop folk musicians. The way I see it, the folk troubadours will simply pick up their guitars, get on stage in front of the cockroaches, and perform songs with thinly veiled metaphors relating Twinkies to their lost loves. That being said, the cockroaches that catch the Arbitrarys after the apocalypse are in for a treat. The Arbitrarys are a co-ed folk duo from the rugged plains of Northern British Columbia, Canada. Though the pairing of Joshua Sandu and Naomi Kavka often stick to the traditional dual acoustic guitar method, they aren't afraid to incorporate an electric guitar, cello and even a melodica into the mix, among others.

Unfortunately, for all of the positive things I have to say about this young duo's debut seven-song EP, Anticipation Is Destination certainly opens on a poor note. The first track, "Heat the Suck" finds the band stumbling out of the gate, with Sandu seeming uncomfortable as he caterwauls to open what is otherwise a fairly mellow EP. When he relaxes on the track, it shines, but when he stretches his voice he never finds his footing, hurting what would otherwise be a good track. The duo quickly recover with "It'll Pass," where Kavka's brilliant voice adds a layer of haunting melodies to serve as a backdrop to a much more comfortable Sandu, whose Adam Turla-esque voice is much more fitting here. The chorus sparkles with beautiful harmonies between the two, and the track is a good showcase for the duo's strengths. Kavka's voice comes to the forefront for her first featured track, "I Don't Know," where she showcases her vocal power over a subtle waltz. Though a simple track, its elegance is undeniable.

Though the second half of the disc manages to shine even brighter than the first half, the song that falls right in the middle of the EP, "So..." seems a little unfocused. It contains a recurring electric guitar riff that brings to mind Clapton's "Layla," and Kavka's vocal melody through the verses, though well-executed, is quite forgettable. The noodling on the guitar at the end and Sandu's brief vocal appearances are welcome, but overall the track leaves little impression during its four-and-a-half minutes. The band makes up for it with the final three tracks, though, providing excellent use of the cello and more creative direction in music. The closer, "God Damnit It's About Time," is a great finish to the disc, featuring Sandu at his strongest, and some of the catchiest vocal melodies to be found on the disc, despite the lack of an identifiable chorus.

Although there are a couple of missteps to be found, Anticipation Is Destination is a very enjoyable EP from a promising young duo. As they are not lacking at all in the talent department, all that is needed is an adjustment to their songwriting in order to explore their sound more fully (particularly in the latter halves of tracks), and if that is accomplished, then these kids could certainly fulfill their potential.