On its third full-length album, Canadian five-piece rock band Arkells returns with a collection of songs that address transactional exchanges of both finances and the heart. Written at home in Hamilton, Ontario, High Noon feels different from the band’s first two efforts. Technically, Arkells places more emphasis on modern production and string arrangements to complement its piano-based synth-rock, but emotionally, the band focuses on hope throughout the record.
It’s a divergent set of influences—The Clash for the politically charged songs and ELO for the pop-rock love songs. Frontman Max Kerman actually described the opening track “Fake Money” as the band’s first protest song, delving into the dichotomy of economic power and responsibility that’s all too apparent in the U.S. and the band’s home country. Conversely, the romantic relationships of “11:11” (which is a little too reminiscent mid-career All American Rejects) and the platonic ones of “Crawling Through the Window” aim for narrative completeness. Arkells achieves that on the standout track “Leather Jacket,” which reaches The Hold Steady or Bruce Springsteen levels of storytelling in less than four minutes.
While Arkells has been a hit at home since its inception in 2008 (winning multiple Junos), they’ve never sustained notoriety with their southern neighbor nation. High Noon may not necessarily break through the American market, but is worth a listen for its consistently catchy Canadian pop rock.