Pitchfork – Arms Akimbo

You’re driving with the top down on the winding, cliff-ridden roads of Los Angeles. The air is thick with humidity. The wind is blowing. As you drive, the golden hour illuminates the crimson seascape with a setting burning yellow sun that hangs over the darkening waters of California. Wispy clouds of faded white are scrawled across the canvas of the evening sky. You turn up the radio, and a melancholic summer melody hits your ears as your hair whips across your face:

“Well if we’re patient then we’ll make it eventually / That’s what I’m learning when we’re out on the road / But it’s tough to leave town when I’m letting her down / Hope she wants me when I make it back home.”

That’s the aura of Los Angeles natives Arms Akimbo newest release “Pitchfork,” the latest single off of their 2019 EP, Seven Dollar Paycheck. The band—comprised of Peter Schrupp, Christopher Kalil, Matthew Sutton and Colin Boppell—have impressively opened for WALK THE MOON, Said The Whale and Colleen Green, among others. Infused with wistful, trancelike harmonies and warm vocals that linger with hope, “Pitchfork” is a track to remember. With smooth guitar work and a heartsick, nostalgic narrative of almost lovers and the challenges of life on the road as a musician, the song channels the soundtrack of a coming-of-age film from the 1990s. It’s a track that spins the story of the lonely, nomadic life that a musician can lead, and the sacrifices he must make along the way. It’s haunting lyricism, juxtaposed with a warm summery tone, stays with you.

The wistful lyrics–delivered by an plaintive narrator that’s trying to maintain a hometown love and the tangibly poignant existential dread that comes with being a growing artist  and leaving the simple things behind–are strung together with strong, catchy indie rock-infused minimalist guitar hooks and alternative melodies. Vocalist Schrupp’s tone conjures a eerie, ethereal aura of summertime sadness to this single. It’s infectious narrative holds onto you and will not let you go.
The constant passage of time in the lyrics is brilliant; it feels as though you are on the traveling with the narrator as he talks about coming and going, where he is on the road, what he’s thinking about, the weather and how it reminds him of the woman he left behind:

 
“But it’s cold in West New Mexico / I’m thinking ’bout the text she wrote / And how I always let love slip away.”

The narrator’s frustration that he is stuck between the woman back home who he loves and his constant strive for fame is a melancholy scene to set, and Arms Akimbo does it almost effortlessly. The narrator’s guilt is cleverly placed throughout the track:


“I’m never gonna love you the same / I’ll always be the boy in the band / Waiting for my record to break / Waiting with my head in the sand.”

Pensive and frustrated, the narrator chastises himself for not being there for his lover. He feels guilty that she is always waiting for him and supporting him as he tries to become a notable artist in the music industry. He asks himself: when will it all be too much? When will she have enough waiting? He knows that if he continues to leave and continues to tell her “someday,” she will lose interest and leave him. She will become the one that got away.

Towards the end of the track, as time goes on (again, Arms Akimbo making brilliant use of time in their lyricism), the narrator alludes to the relationship finally crumbling because he cannot decide between his love of music and his love for her:
“Well, we’re alone here on the phone but it’s quiet now / It gets harder when there’s nothing to fight about / We could fake it ’til we’re changing our attitude.”
“Pitchfork” is a notable nostalgic piece that contemplates past loves, guilt and the ache of being alone in order to pursue your dream. The music industry is not always a happy place, and Arms Akimbo does a brilliant job of telling that story punctuated with doleful vocals and mesmerising instrumentation that haunts you long after the record has been shut off.
Words by Alexis den Boggende
 

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