There I am, minding my own business in my favorite concert venue in Portland, chatting with a friend, awaiting the start of the night’s headliner band — Mt. Joy (featured last year on WtMM and who, for the record, killed their set). Then, four crazy-young-looking people walk onstage, politely say “Hi” and “We’re Arlie,” and proceed to blow the doors off the damn place.
Two songs into Arlie’s set, I was downloading their EP. Five songs in, I started mentally composing this post with their earworm track Barcelona Boots bouncing around my brain.
Touring on their debut EP Wait (released in September), Arlie live is a rush of energy, a torrent of sound, and an undeniable infectious charm. Their songs are well-crafted, slickly produced, playful, and brightly harmonic; pop melodies gliding over sheets of 80s-sounding synth sounds and rock guitar riffs.
Arlie has a distinct sound, but there are a lot of influences to be heard in their music. Traces of the Beatles are evident in nearly every track; Water Damage has a remixed, electronic Beach Boys sound; lead singer Nate Banks’ slightly distorted and fuzzed-out vocals on Didya Think bring to mind Arctic Monkeys; and, I hear wisps of everything from Rostam and Vampire Weekend to early days Foster the People and even a tinge of Zeppelin when they really let loose.
Listening to their record now a few days later, I am impressed by how much they amp up their live shows. Tightly-produced studio album songs are roughed up at the edges and played harder, which is a testament to me of both their youthful energy and ambition. Arlie is absolutely a band to see in concert.
Appropriately enough for a debut EP, there an unfinished quality to this record and the emerging project that is Arlie. But, they are playing loose, having fun, and ripping into their songs — even on a Tuesday night in a small venue in Portland, Maine — which bodes well for their future.