Kiwis are renowned for having a can-do attitude, which probably stems from being at the end of the world in a country the size of the UK yet with a population of just 5 million. We even have a description for it, calling it Number 8 wire mentality, which often goes with the phrase “she’ll be right”. A fine example of that is Auckland-based musician JP Carroll, otherwise known as Arrays, who has just released his/their new album, ‘Light Years’. Unless one read the sleeve notes or the bio one would not believe this is the work of just one man, as here we have a commercial rock album, containing elements of grunge and some prog which sounds as if it has been created by a powerful band. It takes the punch of acts such as Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Coridian, and then mixes it up with a strong commercial melodic vocals which often contrast with what is happening beneath.
It is only when playing close attention that one realises there is a great deal going on, with keyboards used sparingly, and nu-metal influences also having a part to play. That being said, the songs are linked by the vocals yet are quite different in many ways, and what strikes the listener is just how many of these could be taken as singles, as they have that commercial element and hooks which really stick in the brain. If you had asked me 10 minutes ago what was the best song on the album then I would probably have said “Home”, but listening to “Little Blue Dot” again makes me question my choice. Each is strong, with wonderfully layered vocals and arrangements, loads of riffs and aggression being tempered but never fully going away.
Carroll is a strong guitarist, and all the songs contain multiple layers which come across as a tight outfit, with even the drums (an element which often suffers when there isn’t a pro behind the kit) coming through and driving the music onwards. Before he formed Arrays, Carroll was in Armed In Advance who supported the likes of Drowning Pool, P.O.D and Skillet, and he understands how songs need to come across to really reach the audience, and although this is a studio project this album has been written and delivered in a way that demands Carroll pull a band together and play these live. This is an incredibly well-considered set of songs-based anthems with plenty of variation, yet all with that alternative rock/grunge mentality with plenty of (but not too much) polish. Well worthy of further investigation.
Kev Rowland | 8/10