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Arnold | Bahama (Poptones)
Before further ado, it's worth mentioning by way of couldn't-think-of-any-other introduction, that one of the more amusing live bills I've seen on a poster was Arnold, supported by Vera. It's a delight then, that Arnold has returned to perhaps amuse me once more, particularly if they were to tour with Alfie or Cecil. After the dismantling of Creation, Arnold was one band I thought would be scooped up with haste, but it wasn't to be. The patchy 'Hillside' album may not have gone in their favour, but their biggest fan in Alan McGee is perhaps the only man bold enough to put money into their strange, muted bliss-pop - as commercial as it isn't - so it's good to see the band back under the guidance of one who actually gives a shit. 'Bahama' is enchanting and odd, exactly as could be expected of Arnold at best; a collection of brief, often gorgeous and dreamy songs that are veiled in mystery and melancholy. There are four lilting beauties present, starting with opener Climb; aching vocal and stoned strum against a wall of strings; the single Oh My is unfeasibly beautiful - a classic summer ballad with its own heat haze, coming on sonically like an acoustic Cocteau Twins. Then there's the epic, swoonsome Pavey Ark that thankfully manages to keep a potentially huge rock climax in check, and Other Son, so gentle and pretty, and the last of the album's genuinely great moments. Elsewhere, the spirit of Marc Bolan thrives in the slinky glam-lite of Tiny Car, and even more so in the vocal delivery of Hangman's Waltz. In fact, Sounds of the Seventies pervade this release, and the tattier acoustic work of particularly the Faces haunt certain cuts - never a bad thing in my book. Now, whatever happened to Vera?

Tom Sheriff
October 2001