The Blood Arm- Infinite Nights (RIP Ben Lee Records)
Now based in Berlin, The Blood Arm have produced a new album that is much darker than their previous offerings. Joe Whyte listens in.
Having relocated from the USA to Berlin last year, The Blood Arm appear to have absorbed some of the city’s stark austerity which remains despite the glass and chrome sheen of the constantly evolving skyline. They follow in the footsteps of Bowie, Iggy, TheBirthday Party and U2 in moving to a city that retains its pre-war seedy glamour as well as its Cold War chill.
Previous albums have had sex, sass and good fun amongst the garage rock/B-movie lunacy. Infinite Nights is much more of a downbeat, dysthymic record. It seems as if its party’s end at times; everyone has left, its half past stupid o’clock and there’s nothing except empty beer bottles and full ashtrays to behold.
Wrong Side Of the Law opens the album and its Phil Spector drums and Marychain – feedback guitar from Zebastian Carlisle also have that weary air to them. The song itself is quite beautiful and shows a different, more sensitive side to The Blood Arm.
Midnight Moan steals its opening guitar motif from the Au Pairs Set Up before blazing into a glam stomper which is more reminiscent of The Blood Arm’s earlier material. Vocalist Nathaniel Fregoso’s voice is all Bolan braggadocio and Lux Interior swagger. Dyan Valdes on keyboards adds spiralling flourishes and her voice lends femininity to the songs brusque attack.
Oh Ali Bell is another change in direction; acoustic guitar and keyboards hint at an almost country feel. It’s again a bittersweet song and adds to the albums late-night feel.
Happy Hour takes Johnny Marr-style arpeggios and Fregoso’s lovelorn lyrics and adds a twist of bitterness to the mix; there’s clearly been some heartbreak in the making of this record.
Sex Fiend is very much vintage Blood Arm.Their B52s meets The Cramps garage good time is very much in evidence.The album is very much a game of two halves with the reflective, introspective songs interlaced with the candy-coated clang of the up-tempo numbers.
I reckon that this album is as much for The Blood Arm as it is for us; themes of restlessness and mortality are woven through the songs and this maturity is definitely not a bad thing.
I look forward to the next chapter.
All words by Joe Whyte. More work by Joe on Louder Than War can be found here.