Left the Highway by Arkport (Review)

Arkport is at their best when they ditch the new wave and focus on crafting lazy, atmospheric pop songs.
Left the Highway - Arkport

As much as Arkport might try to convince you that they’re a synth band, don’t believe it for a minute. Sure, the band employs a fair amount of noodling on the old Korg. But those sounds never really integrate themselves well with Arkport’s noisier pop leanings. A soft analog melody floats throughout “Let Me Love,” but it’s window decoration more than anything else. When the synths do muscle their way to the forefront, as with “Perfect Person“ s perky keyboard line, it borders on goofy.

Arkport is really at their best when they ditch the new wave and instead focus on crafting lazy, atmospheric pop songs à la Ivy or The Sundays. “Have Your Fill” strives for that lazy Sunday afternoon feel, and nearly achieves it with its lightly brushed percussion and drifting guitars. But it’s “Winter Dreams” that provides the album’s most satisfying moment. Here, Arkport’s pop atmospherics and noisy textures sit nicely side by side, bolstered by a gentle keyboard accompaniment and Erin Berkey’s breathless vocals. The song floats by more than anything else, which sounds far better to these ears.

But overall, the album is spotty at best. One minute, the quintet’s trying to craft bouncy little pop songs (“Perfect Person”), the next something more contemplative and spiritually minded (“Waiting For Life”). They’re definitely better at the latter, especially since so many of their lyrics center on spiritual matters (i.e. trusting in God, realizing one’s identity in Christ). This leaves the more upbeat numbers feeling better suited for a youth group excursion.

Now, the last time I made smarmy comments about a band’s press release, I got called on it. And I really resisted the urge with this one. You see, Arkport aren’t really too close to “redefining music as it is known.” But songs like “Winter Dreams” show you don’t have to in order to write good songs. Hopefully, Arkport will realize that soon, because I’ve a feeling they’ve got plenty of good songs within themselves.


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