The highly combustible and giddily addictive New York City troika of vocalist Brain F. McPeck, bassist Matt McAuley and drummer/keyboardist Tom Bullock of the aptly dubbed A.R.E. Weapons jump out with slick, darkly-hued beats that merge with a nifty, well-spun aggression. The end result of the self-titled album: Voila! It’s a gem.
These guys dare to be hip. And they succeed because they’re just a tad bit deranged – armed with refreshingly dynamic lyrics and a foul-mouthed fightin’ spirit to pull it off. The electronic-punk, street-smart ensemble, which hooked up with the Limey label Rough Trade, jangle along while burning a steaming poker on your rear.
A.R.E. Weapons even pay tribute to New York’s original street rock fiend Lou Reed, with cover art that resembles Reed’s Transformer. A.R.E. uses lyrical elements from “Walk on the Wild Side” in “Fuck You Pay Me.”
The first song, “Don’t Be Scared,” spews out shamelessly on the red carpet of mainstream pop while straddling a chopper that reeks of junk blues. The stark, spooky symphony is only a hint of things to come.
A.R.E. takes the Fonz’s advice in “Don’t Be Scared,” when Brain hollers, “Don’t be scared, be cool.” This number mirrors the Stranglers’ “Peaches,” reintroduced in the 2001 gangster film “Sexy Beast.”
Instead of bluntly wailing on the sleazy charm of New York’s nightwalkers, A.R.E. revels in the absurdity, soaking it up like Cancun sunshine in “Changes.” Brain pecks out, “You know, alcohol’s a ball, and heroin’s a sin, cocaine messes up your brain and dexies keep you thin.”
To top off the album, A.R.E. chants “New York Muscle” after the final track’s dead space. It just might be the coolest song to rattle your stereo in a while.
[Eliav Appelbaum takes much of the Fonz’s advice but refuses to adopt a pomp. Smart thinkin’.]