Review by Tony Rounce
Who doesn’t love ARXX?
We’ve been charting the rise and rise of our entirely adorable Brighton based gal pals pretty much since Hanni Pidduck and Clara Townsend teamed up almost half a decade ago. Their musical progression has been on an impressively upward curve from day one, and it’s both fair and truthful to say that they would have been much, much further down the road to superstardom by now had a pandemic not put that journey on hold.
Determined not to stagnate while meeting up and going out was not an option, Hanni set about writing a bunch of colossally brilliant songs (and honing a few others that were written and road tested just before the first lockdown) for when ARXX could come out and play again. Well, they ARE out and playing again, thankfully – and if their recent London show at Signature Brew is anything to go by, the duo’s forthcoming UK summer tour will be both unstoppable and unbeatable.
Not only are ARXX gigging again, they have a brand new single – their third single of 2021 to date after ‘Call Me Crazy‘ and ‘Deep’, in that order – to herald the tour’s commencement. You can take it from a long-term and possibly slightly biased fan (that would be me…) that ‘Not Alone But Not With You’ is a quantum leap forward in their audio quest for world domination. I can’t pretend it’s very good. It’s much, MUCH better than merely ‘very good’. It is, in fact, absolutely astonishingly brilliant, a supercharged pop masterpiece with a relentless up-tempo groove, a big, big sound, a mighty sing-along chorus for your bath time serenade sessions – take it from one who’s been serenading himself with very little else for the past few days! And enough hooks to hang a whole house full of curtains.
There’s also a typically bittersweet, pithy H. Pidduck lyric going on within the brash, bright soundscape. Constructed in a way that would impress any and all of the great past masters of pop songwriting, this is a song that screams ‘Top 20, driver – and make it snappy’. If this was 1983, and sung by the The Go-Go’s (whose chief songwriters Jane Wiedlin and Charlotte Caffey will surely love it to pieces, if they ever get to hear it), it would be the highest entry in the national charts next week, no question. The more YOU hear it, the more you’ll want to hear it. And the more you’ll want to hear it, the louder you’ll want to hear it. And then to hear it some more…
I adore proper Pop music. I grew up on proper Pop music. Songs with catchy hooks, massively memorable sing-along choruses, a defined bridge and a running time of around two and a half minutes will do it for me every time. ‘Not Alone’ is all that, and definitely more. Since I first heard it coming out of my phone at low volume on a train last week – and oh, how I wanted so much to crank the volume up high and entrance my fellow passengers with it – I must have listened to the track 40 times, maybe even as many as 50 or 60. I’ve sung the chorus in my mind as infinitum, to a point where I almost can’t remember a time in my life where I didn’t know the song. This is the power of proper Pop. This is the power of ARXX.
There is going to be a mass outbreak of falling in love with ‘Not Alone’ in the coming weeks, as ARXX travel round the country promoting it on what I suspect might be their last small venue tour before they move up to bigger audiences and wider national acclaim. They’re playing LOUD WOMEN Fest on 18 September as part of that tour, so please do come and see them there if you can while they still belong to ‘us’, rather than to the world…
Pure Now For Pop People. Single of the week, the month and probably the year. And if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to go and play it another few dozen times…
‘Not Alone But Not With You’ is out today. Follow the adventures of Hanni and Clara on all the usual socials, and find full details of their upcoming summer tour at www.arxxband.com