The latest album and i look to you? by Edmonton based avant-rock band Archaics is their 3rd major release and first new record in 5 years, yet the group still struggles to find their sound. Despite strong tracks, the album is inconsistent and incoherent. While flow is not the intention, many of these songs sound as if they’re from different bands in a genre spanning way the group is far from mastering.
Strength lies in Archaic’s dreary vocals, accompanied by rhythmic driving drums and interjecting guitar. Many risks are taken on this album, which often build but leave me wanting more. New and interesting musical ideas are prevalent throughout the tracks, yet there is often little pay off by the end of each song. Whether it be the use of strings, flute or keys, all these elements had more potential and could have been further utilized. The strings included in ‘Make It So’ and ‘Shades of Blue’ could have played a much larger role throughout the album as they are an enchanting and captivating contribution to the songs they’re included in.
The band is straying away from their psychedelic roots and leaning into the avant-rock sound. The music fades into the background and requires active listening to consume. While not attention grabbing, the tracks also won’t function as easy listening. The art rock sound, while one of a kind, is also rather forgettable. The production quality varies from track to track while the members of the band don’t always sound like they’re on the same page, leading to disjointed tracks.
A lack of balance and mastering, or possibly a poor choice to overpower the vocalist with instrumentation, has made it so the lyrics can’t be made out. This is unfortunate as they could have provided an introspective element to highlight the experimental sound.
This album would ultimately be much stronger if released as an EP, with only half the songs included, notably the first four tracks. Many of these songs could have stayed as demo tracks and been reworked for future projects as the group comes into their own. ‘Repetitions’ would make a fine single as it is memorable and possesses its own psychedelic tone. The spoken word throughout the song stands out from the rest of the album in a notable way. In the end, even the strongest songs on this album heavily rely on the general soundscape to be perceived as something more than they are.