According to Tony Wilson Law established out of Manchester sometime in the early ’80s, every new post-punk group in existence must perform a cover or play an entire set as Joy Division. Lowell guitar-rock quartet Arlen got that shit out of the way early in their life as a band, and once the obvious tribute was out of the way, the band was able to further develop and evolve their sound.
The result, as of right now, is Arlen’s new EP The Slight, a tightly-wound fit of emotive post-punk that hits on the genre’s usual touchstones but extends itself outward into sonic territories that carry as much melodic shine as it does grit. The bleak and grimy depths of post-punk are at play here, but every so often the EP rises up with beacons of alt-rock ambition.
“We really wanted to capture the unsettling side of our music, and Dave Minehan was really able to bring that out of us,” drummer Andy Bechtol tells Vanyaland. “There were a lot of rough times happening for all of us while we were writing these songs and I think it got captured really well. There’s definitely a lot of darkness in these songs and it kind of tells a bit of a story about passion, and anger, and remorse. It wasn’t a concept album, by any means, and it’s almost like we blacked out and accidentally made all of these songs fit together.”
Bechtol says a lineup change and their evolution of what Arlen should be and sound like helped shape the EP, allowing for an experience better served pumped in from headphones than out on a noisy dance floor. And Minehan helped push the musicians creatively, both individually and as a whole.
“I don’t want to say we had a vision for this EP, but we knew that we had fine-tuned our sound and how we mesh as musicians,” Bechtol adds. “Dave Minehan definitely pushed us creatively and we were able to do things to these songs that really did them justice in the end. He is a huge part of this EP and were very thankful for his work. It’s Arlen — the way we weren’t meant to be heard.”