Rows Arc: High On The Tide (Hawthorne Street Records)

Chicagoan dream pop outfit serve up excellent new dream pop platter

Released May 8th, 2019 via Hawthorne Street Records / By Erick Mertz
Rows Arc: High On The Tide (Hawthorne Street Records) Rows Arc is a Chicago, Illinois three-piece and their newest record, High On The Tide is a tidy little bit of wonderful.

The record opens with its eponymous track, which is three minutes of alarming keyboards and sultry vocals, layered over surprisingly booming percussion. There is a divinely tribal element to the song, and yet, it somehow conveys a strangely post-modern edge. Rows Arc gets into the heart of their sound and gravitas quickly afterwards though. I think this album is really an exploration of melancholy’s many different colors and shapes and flavors.

Soft And Low is a droning and hypnotic road traveled alone at dusk, while on Some Days there are a lot of pleas and promises from singer and lyricist Sarah Olmstead, all of it culminating in a gorgeously alone-in-a-crowd effect. It is a sad trash can choir, full of lovelorn voices and untamed sirens that make me feel more alone and on my own precipice than any song I’ve heard in a while.

When the band wants to churn up the energy, which they do so sparingly (Hard Lights) they are perfectly capable of infusing a little inspiration into their sound. The lyrics and vocal performances really shine through on this record though. Olmstead is a wonder and how her voice is produced is spellbinding, accentuating her alienation, like on River with its bleak animalistic howling, extending a warm and urgent, wanting of Onto Something and splayed vulnerably over the strident guitars of Rain.

In summary, where I arrive is that this album offers performances of modest brilliance and rare candor, and its cumulative effect feels permanent. One of the more engaging recordings of the year to date, High On The Tide is simultaneously quirky and sincere. It is a work of fleeting sadness and everlasting appeal. 4/5