ARKELLS: MORNING REPORT NEW ALBUM AVAILABLE WORLDWIDE AUGUST 5THPRODUCED BY: JOE CHICCARELLI (THE STROKES, MY MORNING JACKET), TONY HOFFER (BECK, M83), BRIAN WEST (SIA, AWOLNATION), GUS VAN GO (THE STILLS, WINTERSLEEP) ” It’ s a weird time to be a rock band right now,” observes Max Kerman, the singer, guitarist, and chief songwriter for the Arkells. ” I just feel like rock has gotten so conservative and doesn’ t know where to go. To be honest, I don’ t really listen to a lot of rock music right now.” That’ s not a radical statement for your average twenty-something in this EDM-dominated era, but it’ s a bit surprising coming from a guitar-slinging guy whose band seemingly personifies a certain old-school, ethic. Hailing from the gritty industrial outpost of Hamilton, Ontario, the Arkells have notched four Juno Awards and a gold record on their sweat-rusted belts, proving there’ s still a place for passionate, no-bullshit rock ‘ n’ soul in the mainstream. (In 2015, they were the most-played band on Canadian alt-rock radio.) But the group’ s new album, Morning Report, betrays a more irreverent, adventurous ethos that more readily recalls the cut-and-paste approach of hip-hop beatmakers than the plug-and-play attack of a live rock band, with click-tracked rhythms, subliminal samples, electronic pulses, and sax and violins threaded into the richly textured mix. Certainly, this is the Arkells’ most eclectic album to date, from the piano-pounded, ” California Love” -schooled swagger of ” Private School” to the silver-lined break-up song ” My Heart’ s Always Yours,” the sort of ascendant, blood-pumping anthem you can easily imagine sparking an arena full of waving illuminated smartphones. But if the Arkells have mostly scrubbed away the surface soot of their Hamilton-spawned sound, lyrically, Kerman’ s songwriting hits even closer to home. ” A lot of the songs are about me and characters in my life: my friends, my parents, my girlfriend,” Kerman says. ” And a lot of times, they’ re songs about what happened the night before. So that’ s why it’ s called Morning Report: you text your friend the next day and it’ s like, ‘ Give me the morning report!'” But Morning Report balances tales of last night’ s debauchery with more sobering examinations of a time in life that doesn’ t get much play in rock music: your late-twenties. It’ s the phase when all your friends start getting married, your parents suddenly decide to get divorced, and long-distance relationships hit their shit-or-get-off-the-pot breaking point. But while melancholic, meditative ballads like ” Passenger Seat” and ” Come Back Home” provide unflinching portraits of marriages on the brink of collapse, rousing, soul-powered sing-alongs like ” A Little Rain” pay poignant tribute to the friendships that help you through the tough times, and provide that much-needed shoulder to cry on.
” That’ s another thing that’ s so conservative about white-guy indie rock,” says Kerman. ” What makes Drake so awesome is he just puts all his emotions right on the table for you to see. All of these songs and stories come from a genuine place for me.” The morning reports we get from our friends may arrive through smartphone screens, but the songs on Morning Report all chronicle face-to-face interactions—with all the intimacy, intensity and awkwardness they entail. ” This is our weirdest, funniest, saddest record yet,” Kerman concludes. ” And therefore, our most honest one, too.”