Has the wait been worth it? It has been worth every fucking second since 'New Dawn Evolution' was unleashed.
'Arrows' shows a band more mature, comfortable in what they produce, sure-footed in every note written and every lyric penned.
For example, if there is justice in the world, 'A Long Way Down' would be making the playlists of every rock radio station in the world, with its carefully crafted arrangement.
But, that's not to say that this album is without metallic muscle. Title track lulls listeners in with discordant harmonics before the band's inner DC is channelled and the bass line propels it into a full-scale classic roc assault with Jonathan Armstrong's spilling invective before a glorious ALB chorus.
This all makes this a difficult album to categorise. There are elements of hard rock, a touch of alt, a smattering of metal and balladic moments. And, that really is its strength, not stopping to consider fashion, trends or the bullshit around the music industry, just writing and playing from the heart, as on 'Caught In A Sorrow' sheer heartfelt beauty.
'Faith' is sure to be live-stalwart. The cynical words of other tracks are given over to hopes of better days, forgiveness and devotion. If Feeder ever hear this song they'll quit.
A Little Bitter have always exemplified musicianship, but on 'Arrows' they have taken it to the next level; balancing their playing, with clear separation. No instrument over-shadows another. Seamus Donnelly's bass lines roll along, adding the depth needed, while Darren Pilkington's drums have the right take between sensible playing and adding flourishes. Armstrong's playing is probably the best he has ever laid down on his six-string.
The tenderly tragic tale told in 'Weekend Girl' probably has the most poignant opening lines: "She gets dressed in a vodka haze, killing time just to waste her days til the weekend comes."
From the moment the opening harmonics leading up to verses that paint a downfall and tragedy, an onomatopoeic, restrained solo the pain is painted for those lost. Tears in the eyes stuff.
The child counting in 'Diamonds' bass propelled intro is the suitable jarring note after that, and its mighty meandering path of an instrumental that nod to heroes of the band. A suitable break from the emotional intensity that drips off the rest of the album, and a worthy tribute to the Diamond Rock Club.
This is a nearly flawless set of nine songs. The only flaw is that it leaves the listener wanting more and more.
Closer, 'Ghost' has such depth, a perfect counterpoint to the opening rage of 'Feathers', displaying a band that knows how to arrange their songs in set to allow anyone to wallow in its glory.
Arrows has set the benchmark high for 2018 and what's more it has the quality to endure for many a year - or at least until the next A Little Bitter album...
Review by Jonathan Traynor
Arrows will be launched at the Diamond Rock Club on February 24th, along with Stormzone's album launch