On I Hear You, Arbor Labor Union make a heavy, repetitive rock ‘n roll from droning bass and abrasive guitar. The group were previously known as Pinecones and the name change has also meant a development in their sound, which has become heavier and more experimental, but also just more fun. Released by Sub Pop.
7/10 Robin Staff review, 11 May 2016
Do they rock or do they rock? They… I... somewhere in between. Chugging your way, Sub Pop debutantes Arbor Labour Union are making music that hasn’t quite decided whether it’s gritty and weathered or lucid and happy to be here. The chord sequence is rugged and played edgily, the drummer throws out the odd tinkering curveball, but our clear-as-day singer rounds in on choruses with an unexpected glee: “Mr biiiiiiiirdsong!” he excitedly announces, perhaps aware that ‘I Hear You’ might be the first time folks unaware of past band Pinecones hear him.
This is somewhat heavy rock that can jangle too, that wants to leap out at you from behind a concrete platform -- repetitive as day, its notable basslines and extra riffs pour out of the cracks. Dusty with Americana, certain riffs feel like they could belong to the folksie crunch of Songs Ohia’s ‘Magnolia Electric Co.’ -- one particular track of slow-churned riffage is even named “Hello Transmission”, as if (but probably not) to reference Molina’s “Farewell Transmission”. It’s these slightly more plaintive and peacefully grooving tracks that the band do best -- one like “Radiant Mountain Road” moves with the same intoxicating instrumental build, but it’s unexpected propulsion makes you notice the trick and doubt their dynamism.
This record is built pretty sturdily around the same idea playing out at different rates, in slightly different scenarios: that’s okay, because the band are tight and every reboot feels like an extra rehearsal. “Belief’d” jumps out as a rather lovely track more interesting for its lyrical pontificating, which has charisma to match Ought’s Tim Darcy, if he was stuck in the same rock ‘n’ roll mud slung by the Men in their Tom Petty fanclub era. By that I mean: this band could be noisy if it didn't want to be nice. Don’t let their secretly pretty record convince you it’s a mess.
8/10 Greg B. Customer review, 3rd February 2017
I Hear You is simply psychedelic, repetitious and joyful rock. Like their name suggests, this album is a ‘union’ of sound and vision, where the ongoing and relenting guitars roam free with the wails of vocalist Bo Orr. You can hear the influence of Pixies and The Velvet Underground throughout Arbor Labor Union's nine tracks. Much of the time, it has the feel of one long jam, one that remains lean and muscular throughout. It may sound minimalist at times, but its direct approach is what makes it stand out.
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