Friday, June 07, 2024

Small Black Arrows Release Their Politically Charged Debut Album ‘The British Museum’

Experimental pop group Small Black Arrows have unveiled their debut album ‘The British Museum’, journeys through a number of exhibits that showcase a variety of British influences and melding genres such as folk, rock, and trap-hop. This eclectic blend results in their own unique brand of mesmerising, atmospheric music rich with political insights. 

‘The British Museum’ is a concept album where listeners stop off at different auditory exhibits between tracks, each is made up of experimental soundscapes that break up the album, where listeners can appreciate the artistic endeavours that Small Black Arrows are creating. 

‘Exhibit A’ evokes the image of a start menu, functioning as a home screen where listeners are welcomed by an ominous, sophisticated female AI voice. Small Black Arrows utilise static drums with split and staggered sounds, producing a glitch-like effect, and metal clanging as if the listener is entering a virtual world as expressed in the words “Avatar enabled. You Are Entering The British Museum”. 

In contrast ‘Exhibit D’ still features the same AI voice, but the intent feels more like an informative PSA announcement, the AI voice-over becomes staggered and repetitive, creating a glitch-like effect. This demonstrates how Small Black Arrows skillfully generate moments of reflection within ‘The British Museum’ through exceptional auditory experimentation. 

Seamlessly following ‘Exhibit A,’ ‘Machinations’ is a gentle indie pop-rock track characterised by a continuous melody featuring delicate ringing guitars, subtle percussion, and a strong drumbeat that perfectly complements the soft vocal stylings. The lyrics of ‘Machinations’ revolve around acceptance, poignantly conveyed in lines like "I had to learn to give it up, but you can always fall… find your feet and readjust."

‘Voices In The Static’ is a darker track that explores themes if mental health and psychosis through the use of a slower tempo and brooding arrangement. The use of reverb and hazy synths impart a mechanical feel to the song and the emotionally charged vocals harmonise with soft and harsher tones creating contrast highlighting the lyrics “I wrote this in psychosis I hope nobody notices”. 

‘The Wave’ is an acoustic piece with a simple structure, yet it showcases an intricate guitar arrangement at the forefront, creating a hazed and echoing atmosphere. This serves as the perfect backdrop for the echoing vocals, creating a haunting melody. In contrast, ‘The Tower,’ while also an acoustic track, takes a more delicate approach with shimmering guitar arrangements that give the piece a twinkling effect to capture a child-like innocence. 

‘Trojan Horse’  begins with a prominent drumbeat and groovy bass, with cascading crescendos creating a catchy and seductive tune. Following this, ‘Pathway to Contrition’ offers an uncompromising intervention on racism and societal divides, resulting in a powerful and reflective track conveyed through an intricate acoustic guitar arrangement

‘The British Museum’ is an expansive, innovative album where Small Black Arrows excel in experimentation, crafting impeccable auditory experiences through haunting melodies and hints of political insights. This genre-defying, conceptual album captivates listeners from start to finish, Small Black Arrows are definitely the ones to watch. 

Ana Joy King


Image: ‘The British Museum’ Official Album Cover

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