Sound — 9
Well in the Arkells new CD Jackson Square, they use a formula that they call "black and blue eyed soul" and that describes it perfectly. The majority of the tracks are very piano heavy with a few being piano driven but don't think "great, a canadian elton john wannbe" the arkells are far from that. Beautiful, heavy guitars, a soul-full and powerful drum sound sinc greatly with the singers sometimes strained sounding voice. Songs range from the heavier Oh, The Boss Is Coming, to the get-drunk-and-sing-along chorus of John Lennon, to the slower, I'm Not The Sun. All the songs are great long after the first listen but it should also be noted that some of the songs sound similar and at times indecipherable if spliced at the right places. Despite that fact the album is sure to be a classic of theirs in the future.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics sometimes have simliar themes, one example is the two songs; Oh, The Boss is Coming, and the song Deadlines. Both songs focus on issues in the workplace. However there are some great lyrical themes in songs like the Ballad of Hugo Chavez, which seems to sympathize with his rise to power in Venezuela, the ode to a socialist dreamer in No Champagne Socialist is another lyrically solid song, and Pullin Punches deals with the love of a family and how you can't "hold grudges against those who hold blood love". One of my favorite lyrics in the albums are from John Jennon; "head on the wall... my piss hardly makes the stall, and this time it's not an act.". For the most part the lyrics fit the sound of the music, occasionally it seems a tad off but that shouldn't be a major issue to most listeners. The lead singer, Max Kerman, has a voice that is hard to describe but it fits nicely with this style of music, it's very soul-full and he does a superb job matching how to sing to the tone of the music.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall, Jackson Square is a great album from one of Canada's up-and-coming bands, it could be comparable to Sam Roberts if one needed a comparison, and, like I said, is sure to become a classic. The top three songs on the album are probably Oh, The Boss is Coming, The Ballad of Hugo Chavez, and John Lennon. All three have great sing-along choruses and very well display the sound of the band. The things I love about this album are, for one, the accuracy of their description of themselves. Black and blue eyed soul is exactly what the Arkells play, and it absolutely draws you in. I love the catchy choruses and music itself is just great, there's no better word. Some things I'm not a huge fan of are the consistancy of the theme of work, in the lyrics. I understand you write about what you know and this being only the bands first full-length album it can be excusable, but I would prefer to see more variation. That being said I have very few complaints about the album and I can't stop listening to it, if it were lost or stolen I'd be out that day to get another copy, I find it to be a must have for any true Rock-and-Roll fan.