2019 – Tell Me All About Them LP (PNKSLM059) – Listen/buy
2018 – A.T.T.A.C.K reissue (PNKSLM1001) – Listen/buy
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“Because of what the world looks like now, it’s impossible not to be political.”
It’s taken a while for Arre! Arre! to settle - on a lineup, on a sound, and on a message - but their timing could hardly have been better. The Malmö-based punk outfit first began playing together in early 2014, the brainchild of singer-guitarist Anna Palmer and singer and bassist Katja Nielsen. They had a common mission; to make no-nonsense punk with a political bent - and despite it being Anna’s first time playing in a band, they refused to let a lack of experience stand in their way, releasing the scintillating Word on the Street EP later that year. With the group fleshed out to a four-piece, their raucous debut LP A.T.T.A.C.K. followed in 2015, earning acclaim from the likes of Gold Flake Paint and The Line of Best Fit when it was made available outside Scandinavia for the first time last November.
Since then, though, plenty has changed. Anna and Katja have reshuffled the band’s lineup, with kindred spirits Mattis Årestad and Totta Edlund joining on guitar and drums respectively. There’s been no shortage of material to inspire the band’s sophomore full-length, either; with political darkness descending on both their native Sweden and the world at large, Arre! Arre! are leading a ferocious fightback with their own incendiary, kick-to-the-face style punk.
Taking its name from a Swedish podcast that recounts the stories of influential female and transgender figures - the fizzing title track name-checks everybody from Frida Kahlo to Tonya Harding to Marsha P. Johnson - the record serves as a noisy and determined rebuke to the patriarchy, whilst simultaneously striving to encourage minorities to use their voices, especially on the anthemic ‘A Storm Is Coming’. “We wanted songs like that one and ‘I Feel It All’ to be empowering,” explains Mattis.
The rest of the band concur; with time, their message has shifted and become more intersectional. “We want to encourage people to organise themselves and fight back,” says Katja. “There was always a feminist message in our lyrics. Now, they’re more broadly political. We’re not just trying to say “Everything’s shit, life sucks,” - we're trying to be positive, trying to educate people about these amazing women and transgender people, and showing that there is a way to rewrite history.
That's precisely what Arre! Arre! have set about doing with Tell Me All About Them; building the record around a foundation of out-and-out punk stompers like ‘All Time Low’ and ‘Awkwardness’, they've allowed themselves to take ambitious strides forward musically, with their influences running the gamut from Savages and sixties girl groups to James Brown and The Rolling Stones. “It’s a little more post-punk and a little more epic,” is Totta’s take. “And we kind of settled into a spooky horror-movie-slash-western-cowboy movie vibe, too. We developed that in the studio, going for that old school horror feel with the guitars and the synths.” Elsewhere, they nod directly to old favourites, interpolating the chorus from Talking Heads ‘Psycho Killer’ into ‘Rapist Adieu’ and taking their cues from Fugees on ‘We’re Gonna Find U’ by borrowing parts of The Delfonics’ ‘Ready or Not’.
Recorded at Malmö's Studio Sickan with long-time collaborator Joakim Lindberg once again handling production duties, Tell Me All About Them feels like the timeliest of feminist statements at a time when Sweden and the rest of the western world need it; fierce, uncompromising but crucially, optimistic, too - it crackles with a positive political energy. "People sometimes say that the older you get, the less political you become,” says Anna. “It feels to us like the opposite.”