A.R.E. Weapons Free in the Streets

The first half of this decade was notable for its bulk of bands that managed to be ironic without trying to be ironic. Andrew WK made grimacing assertions about the significance of "partying hard.” The Darkness have still never formally avowed that they are, in fact, joking. And A.R.E. Weapons tallied a minor hit with their single "Hey World,” in which they admonished parents to "pay attention to your fucking kids.” Three years later A.R.E. find themselves off Rough Trade and brandishing a portentous new sound. Uniquely horrid metal-ballad conflations, assertions like "I ain’t scared of hell, I’m already there” and puzzling style-shifts mar the LP throughout. Whether wittingly or not, A.R.E.’s eponymous debut articulated a moment with humour, humility and savant observance; but the fear of being dismissed as a novelty sees the band jettisoning these qualities for increased earnestness, polish and pretence — three things that have never held high esteem in punk rock. (Defend)