Arms is the solo venture of multi-instrumentalist Todd Goldstein. Between his work with the Brooklyn-based indie-rock quintet Harlem Shakes and the lo-fi flight-obsessed folk duo The Sea & The Gulls, Goldstein found time to put together a record all his own. Kids Aflame is his first full-length record as Arms; it combines material from his 2004 EP S----y Little Disco with new songs, and the end product is a varied record which mixes elements of bright power-pop with lo-fi prog rock.
The lead single "Whirring" is impossibly catchy, yet artful. The quick, sunny guitars hearken back to Cheap Trick and Blue Album-era Weezer, but the slight, crud-covered production and crunchy guitars gives the song the fresh, fun, energetic of a teen garage band. "Construction" takes the album in a surprisingly different direction. The song's ambient musical swells and jarring clapping, shakers and tambourines give it a psychedelic flavor, only to explode with acoustic guitars for a rousing, Neutral Milk Hotel-esque conclusion.
"Arms is a project I started in 2004 after a year-and-a-half-long bout of pretty awful writer's block," Goldstein says. "Most of my solo recorded material, most of which hopefully won't see the light of day, was spazzy, super-bright ultra-pop. Like, the catchiest, silliest thing I could possibly think of to write and play. After the depression and writer's block, though, I kind of emerged as a different artist. I'd been listening to tons of Neil Young, Slowdive, Morrissey, Low — I fell in love with Low, Pedro the Lion. My fellow sad sacks, basically. And once I started writing again, finally, I guess I'd absorbed a good bit of what they'd all taught me about mood, atmosphere, emotion. Slowness in music, literal and figurative."
Goldstein has been working in the studio with Harlem Shakes to record the band's debut full-length, due out in early 2009, but he's also working on new material for Arms. "It's very, very slow going," he says. "I'm experimenting with being ambitious. Hopefully next time I'll be in a real studio, with a real band and a real producer. A 'real' rock record, in other words, instead of the lo-fi curio I just released. I'm growing up, I guess."
Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.