Single Review: The Sound of Arrows – ‘Conquest’

“The tones and textures they render almost feel alive”

5 STARS

Digital Release: June 24, 2012

Physical Release: N/A

It’s always said that some of the best music is that which is the most simple, and that over-thinking or having too many creative influences clogging up the creative channels can lead to a misdirected amalgam of badly-constructed music – the kind that’ll act like it can master the high jump but when it actually comes to proving it, it simply knocks the bar onto the crash mat and blusteringly pretend that was what was meant to happen all along. And if that wasn’t incentive enough to dispute simplicity correlating with quality, then you could always look at the music of David Guetta, will.i.am., Chris Brown, etc., for further evidence that in today’s market, there’s just as much reason to celebrate the extensive care and attention acts like The Sound of Arrows implement in their music as there is to celebrate being able to knock out a hit in two hours. 

The Sound of Arrows may use synths – a lot of synths – but their similarities to that which is currently scaling the lofty heights of worldwide charts end there. Somewhat wrongly pigeon-holed somewhere in the genre of dream-pop, The Sound of Arrows, an electronic music duo from Sweden who are now on their fifth single release from their début album, ‘Voyage’, are perfectionists. Editing and finalising the album’s twelve tracks, including the most difficult – ‘Conquest’ – days before going to press, the fruits of their efforts might go amiss in the wider scheme of commercial chart music, but it’s there that they forge a mighty rebellion against conformity of modern music, practically inventing their own world more spectacular than the claustrophobic confines of stale chart music, more intricate than samey commercialised electronic music, and more optimistically ebullient than the frequently-associated-with Pet Shop Boys. 

Childhood naïveté and wide-eyed wonder illuminate the red velvet layers of synth-brass on ‘Conquest’, one of The Sound of Arrows’ more vigorously resplendent tracks; instead of smouldering gently before erupting into an enormous climax like so much of their material, the comparatively bite-size ‘Conquest’ takes a more ‘pop’ approach, but doesn’t fail to immerse the listeners into a myriad of wonder, fantasy and mystery straight from the off, as if it were the soundtrack to childhood epic from the 80s, The Neverending Story. Triumphantly pounding through a rousing chorus, Stefan Storm uses his featherweight voice to bring a reserved romantic quality to the music whilst being neither over-powered nor overexposed; only a perfect compliment to the music so that the tones and textures they render here on ‘Conquest’ almost feel alive. 

The Sound of Arrows’ music is proof that to take time with music can still deliver results of great quality, and whilst they will always be criticised for having shot themselves in the commercial foot – being too ‘epic’ (you don’t simply name a song ‘Conquest’ and expect to allow yourself to follow trend) to be considered pop and never really baying to alternative interest (decide for yourself whether you agree that that’s a good thing) – there’s a resounding sense of contentment here that smugly, but ever so politely, suggests that they don’t really care. ‘Conquest’, and the rest of ‘Voyage’ (save ‘My Shadow’) are happy enough to exist in their own world; they’re just waiting for others to join them.

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