The Ark - State Of The Ark Review
By Patrick Muldowney
The review for The Ark aptly begins before even opening the jewel case to reveal the disc. State of the Ark would be my early frontrunner for "Most Awfully Awesome Album Cover", a distinguished honor I award in my mind annually. For example, Smog's Knock Knock was a past winner. Just to make you understand, this group, all in white, with a peaceful pink and yellow haze emanating from their being, look like the type of guys you would find on a cruise ship hosted by The Polyphonic Spree. The only problem with that theory is they might be kicked off for creating a meth lab in one of the cabins. Seriously, it is impossible for an American eye to look at this cover and not imagine this group huddled at a corner table of a discotheque guarding their designer drugs, which makes me hope that this album cover looks way different in Sweden, the homeland of The Ark. There are definitely no American bands who would allow a guy with eyeliner and an ass chin, who is outlined in pink, to throw a gang sign on the cover of their album, but things must be different in Stockholm.
State of the Ark may be as strange sonically as it is visually. The first track, "This Piece of Poetry…," has the lyrical quality and delivery of Meatloaf, while musically delivering sounds akin to Olivia Newton-John's "Xanadu". Ola Salo, the singer/songwriter for the band, definitely proves that ABBA is still influential to Swedish pop through this track, and others. The following track, "Rock City Wankers," adds a bit of rock and punk to their sound, and its anti-drug message toward New York City's heroine users, apparently means that though they look like drug users, their glassy eyes are simply resulting from Saturday Night Fever. The song has definite appeal with the snappy snare drums and groovy bass line, meshed with Salo's lyrics, punk in nature and pop in delivery, making it feel similar to Blondie when they moved from CBGB's to Studio 54. "Rock City Wankers" also features a chant, which is always a guilty pleasure for listeners, of, "I'm gonna have a no-life-low-life 'til I get out/Then I get Highlife O-o-oh!" Plus, if you liked the film Headwig and the Angry Inch, during a breakdown Salo says, "Try some manners, f***-face," in a perfect Headwig-like moment.
It is difficult to imagine how many of the songs, though incredibly catchy, would be appealing enough to become hits in America, due to the dated sound and the lack of translation, at times, but "One of Us is Gonna Die Young" might possibly work in this country. It's another pretty rock song that provides a reason for impromptu sex, which is always celebrated here, until the subsequent stories of itching and burning. The song features an initial lyrical plea of, "We both have to get it on before the summer's gone/We gotta hurry with no worry to get done today/Cause one of us is gonna die young," before completely resorting to baby talk at the end with, "We'll go shim-shim shammey and get whimsy and get whammy." The best part is that the insert provides you with all these genius lyrics. Take them to a spoken word some night, just for kicks.
The Ark is definitely attempting to put the glam back in rock, and in many ways it can be fun. There are many moments to sing along to, and even better moments for dancing, although I would save these moments for times when you are alone or with those who you would not scare. Also, for those in college and of legal age, State of the Ark can provide an excellent drinking game. Every third time you hear Salo sing an "oh" or an "oooh", you might have a shot of beer (anything stronger would land you in the hospital). Even with beer, quit after six songs to avoid severe intoxication, which will be perfect because the next three songs work as karaoke. "The Others", or song seven, will allow you to get up and sing your best Jack Black, while you can easily belt out The Knack's "My Sharona" to "Girl You're Gonna Get 'Em", which is a blatant rip off. Finally, throw in some Duran Duran lyrics during "Deliver Us from Free Will" and you've achieved an absurdly memorable beginning to your night.
State of the Ark is a difficult recommendation for listeners, since the initial fan base is limited. Those who like The Darkness, not just the one hit, might like The Ark. Those who consider Jack Black a serious musician might like The Ark. Similarly, even those who liked David Cassidy, beyond his good looks, might put this in rotation. Personally, I will put it under mindless, silly crap, and might play it when I feel like acting stupid and smiling about it. The Ark has talent, and is understandably popular in their home country, but many Americans would perish if a great flood came and they were manning the vessel.
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The Ark - State Of The Ark
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