When the Extra Arms promo people sent me a heads up bout their new album, Headacher, I thought, ya, I like that Ryan Allen dude. But when they sent me a follow up not long after I thought whoa, pushy much? But they were right to push me. Headacher is a fabulous record from beginning to end. Joining the ranks other great muscular pop rock albums released this year from the likes of Ruler, Tiny Little Houses and Odd Robot, the band behind the music is both more and less than its previous incarnation. Formerly Ryan Allen and his Extra Arms, obviously the front man’s name has been lopped off. But more than previously, Extra Arms is more than just Allen’s backing band, with each of the four members now contributing more creatively. The result is kinda like a more rowdy version of Fountains of Wayne, or perhaps Squeeze after a few too many rounds ‘down the pub’. Here the guitars may be a bit more cranked but that unerring melodic sensibility permeates everything.
It’s all there with the opening title track, “Headacher”: surging crunchy guitars, great hooks, and killer FOW vocal technique. This winning formula infuses most of the rest of the material, with particular force on stand out tracks like “Done to Death,” “Why I Run,” “Old Heads” and “You Make the Life You Want.” There is some variety here with less crunchy, more mellow tracks like “Under Surveillance” and “Honey Brown.” And then the album’s closing number, “The Last One,” offers a real departure, a winsome acoustic number.
If you’re looking for pumped up hooks, get a hold of Extra Arms Headacher at their bandcamp site. I don’t want to be pushy or anything, but it’s just that good.