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Arco

Coming to Terms (Pehr Records)

Arco's debut album, Coming to Terms, is a whispered confession, a catalog of private fears and insecurities. This slo-fi sound, heartbreaking in its sensitivity, hasn't changed much since the band's 1998 UK EPs Longsighted and Ending Up.

Arco shares a kinship with the slow moves of Low and Red House Painters, but Arco is much more stripped down, or lo-fi. Live, the group is so quiet that fans crowd close to the stage, afraid that any unnecessary noise will drown out the hushed sounds. The experience is worth the intense concentration. Certainly, angst, loneliness and lovelorn despair are topics known to many songwriters, but in Chris Healey's capable hands, Arco songs are never maudlin. Rather, the ultramelancholy tunes speak from the true heart of shy boys forced to worship from afar. In the woeful "Accident," Healey sings: "You're so beautiful / I just have to laugh... But how to tell you that / I can't imagine." At times, as in "Grey," it seems like the band is poised to rock out, but the level is kept subdued, peppered only with additional strings, piano or horns.

Ultimately, the sad, slow songs triumph on Coming to Terms. As miserable as the lyrics seem, they're clothed in gentle folds of indie bliss. Arco proves that a band doesn't have to be loud or experimental to make an impact. Listen, and let the catharsis begin.

 
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