Arlie’s Debut Album Break The Curse Tackles Generational Trauma With Fun Upbeat Songs

Photo Credit: Gabe Dreschler

Indie-pop band Arlie have officially released their debut album, Break The Curse. Drawing on classic pop influences, Arlie created nostalgic, yet forward-thinking music in their new album. Break The Curse is about overcoming social, cultural, and generational traumas to become one’s true, authentic self and create genuine connections. The album is laced with unforgettable hooks, deliberately naïve sentiments and winking self-awareness, which is set against a genuine attempt at grappling with the weight of existential despair.

According to Arlie’s lead singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Nathaniel Banks:

“This album is called BREAK THE CURSE, which I found to be the common thread between all the songs on this record, and what they mean to me. That is, through this realization of how cycles of hurt are repeated through generations and realizing the parallel between my relationship with my dad and my relationship with other people in my life, like friends and romantic interests. Hitting on the same issues that prevent true connection with those people as my dad did with me and likely his father did with him. This album brought in more collaborators in more significant ways than I have in the past. That also helped with me learning how to overcome obstacles in relationships, in the collaborative process itself.” 

Break The Curse starts off with “sickk,” which serves as the perfect introduction to learning about oneself by going back to their roots. The song begins with a metaphor comparing a person to a computer, “Gonna reset my computer/ I’m gonna restart everything/ I’m gonna go back where I started from/ To the default setting/ I’m gonna rewrite over the hard drive/ I’m gonna pull out all the cords.” The funky beats throughout the song add a futuristic and robotic feel to the song. The music video shows Nathaniel Banks in a hospital gown, running along in a spotlight, as the rest of the shot is black.

Watch the music video for “sickk” here:

The next track, “karma,” showcases Arlie’s strong storytelling skills. “karma” is reminiscent of GroupLove, especially the song “Colours,” with the raspy screams and distorted vocals. The music video for “karma” follows a budding relationship between a couple who each grew up in volatile homes. The couple’s antics throughout the music video are their attempts to break the cycle by working to resolve conflict in a more healthy manner.

Watch the music video for “karma” here:

After “karma” is the funky “poppin,” which has a distinct beat and upbeat tempo. The song is about when someone close drifts away (“We used to talk and now you’re poppin’ off”), and in Arlie’s case, it’s because, “you’re blowing up on the internet.” Their lyrics then state that, “I don’t want a part of it/ Not gonna be your fan if I can’t be your friend.” Although the lyrics indicate that they would do the same if they were in this person’s position, Arlie still misses this relationship, which is evident in the lyrics, “For you, pick me up now/ I’ll sit shotgun/ Take it in, shut my mouth,” and “And now I’m up and down/ And you’re probably out with your other friends/ I can’t get over it.”

The following track, “landline,” focuses on how cell phones and technology encourage this attitude of everyone needing to be available and connected 24/7. The song’s chorus emphasizes the benefits of not being connected all the time with lyrics such as, “All my trouble stays at home/ Leave your drama at the tone,” and, “Yup, I got a landline/ Thank God, I got a landline.” The humorous music video depicts lead singer Nathaniel Banks being tracked via his cell phone, so he ditches it for a red landline. However, his trackers can still follow him, as the red cord of the landline shows them where he has gone.

Watch the music video for “landline” here:

“don’t move” is the next track on Break The Curse. With its slower tempo, it differs from the previous songs, but it plays around with the combination of heavy bass in the background as Nathaniel Banks’ softer vocals are at the forefront. As the song builds, there is a musical break full of vocalizations, electronic music and what even sounds like a little saxophone. 

The ending of “don’t move” smoothly transitions into the beginning of the album’s title track. “break the curse” is about trying to keep the toxic and unhealthy habits from either previous relationships or the relationships that were modeled during childhood. The song starts with a melody that sounds similar to a lullaby, until the vocals enter with a scream. The distorted vocals and light instrumentation towards the beginning bring an almost unearthly and wishful feel to the song, along with the lyrics from the chorus, “Baby we could make it work/ Maybe we could break the curse.” This is one of the more progressive and experimental tracks on the album, and fits well in the middle of the album. 

The next track, “crashing down,” is about thinking something is going to last, such as a relationship, but then suddenly ends. The lyrics express how, “You had a dream that we were older, settled down/ An interviewer asked about the way that we fell in love/ I had a moment where I knew that we could make it/ But the thing about a dream is that you always wake up.” Musically, the song features a nice saxophone solo, as seen in the music video. The music video also has a retro look to it, with shots that seemed to be recorded on an older camera, and bright neon colors reminiscent of the 80s. Although the song expresses the end of a relationship, the music video contradicts this with its bright aesthetic. 

Watch the music video for “crashing down” here:

The ninth track on Break The Curse, “cool,” sounds like the beginning of the American Horror Story theme song at first, but then transitions into Arlie’s typical upbeat tracks. The vocals sound far away, giving the track a more retro sound reminiscent of an almost 90’s pop style. The musical transition between “cool” and the next track, “icetrays,” give the impression of the songs being connected, although the themes of the two songs couldn’t be more different. While “cool” laments about the feeling of imposter syndrome when it comes to not feeling as though people think one is cooler than they believe, “icetrays” is about a suffocating relationship. The song feels as though the listener is heading into a dissociative state, that is broken only during the chorus with the heavy drum beat and guitar.  

“wait a minute” is the perfect song for the summer, with its upbeat tempo, and catchy melodies that sound like the Beatles blended in with George Harrison’s solo work (especially “What Is Life”). It feels more like a summer song when paired with the music video where Arlie is performing in a field and playing around in a pool.  

Watch the music video for “wait a minute” here:

The final song on Break The Curse, “titanic,” boasts beautiful harmonies in the chorus and an awesome moment building up to the final bridge of the song. Thematically, it rounds out the album perfectly, as Arlie sings about the struggles of accepting that one is growing older, especially during a teenager’s coming of age. The second verse encapsulates this idea of trying to ignore the passing of time, “We are forever seventeen/ Time is frozen as we dart our eyes from screen to screen/ Because we’ve chosen to ignore the darkness in between.”

For those looking for a new indie pop record to blast this summer on a road trip, or just driving around town, then add Break The Curse to the playlist. Fans of Arlie’s upbeat and fun tracks are also in luck, as their headline tour kicks off today, June 17th, at Motorco Music Hall in Durham, NC and ends August 5th at Eastside Bowl in Nashville, TN. Check out the tour dates below, then go ahead and pick up tickets on their website.

BREAK THE CURSE TOUR DATES:
JUNE 17, 2022 – DURHAM, NC – MOTORCO MUSIC HALL
JUNE 19, 2022 – RICHMOND, VA – RICHMOND MUSIC HALL
JUNE 21, 2022 – WASHINGTON, DC – DC9
JUNE 22, 2022 – CAMBRIDGE, MA – SONIA
JUNE 24, 2022 – NEW YORK, NY – MERCURY LOUNGE
JUNE 25, 2022 – PHILADELPHIA, PA – MILKBOY
JUNE 26, 2022 – PITTSBURGH, PA – THUNDERBIRD MUSIC HALL
JUNE 28, 2022 – COLUMBUS, OH – RUMBA CAFÉ
JUNE 30, 2022 – FERNDALE, MI – THE LOVING TOUCH
JULY 3, 2022 – DES MOINES, IA – XBK
JULY 5, 2022 – OMAHA, NE – SLOWDOWN
JULY 6, 2022 – KANSAS CITY, MO – ENCORE AT THE UPTOWN THEATER
JULY 7, 2022 – DENVER, CO – GLOBE HALL
JULY 9, 2022 – SALT LAKE CITY, UT – SOUNDWELL
JULY 10, 2022 – BOISE, ID – THE SHREDDER
JULY 12, 2022 – SEATTLE, WA – MADAME LOU’S
JULY 13, 2022 – PORTLAND, OR – MISSION THEATER
JULY 14, 2022 – SACRAMENTO, CA – GOLDFIELD TRADING POST
JULY 16, 2022 – SANTA ANA, CA – THE CONSTELLATION ROOM
JULY 17, 2022 – SAN DIEGO, CA – VOODOO ROOM AT HOUSE OF BLUES
JULY 19, 2022 – TUCSON, AZ – CLUB CONGRESS
JULY 20, 2022 – SANTA FE, NM – MEOW WOLF
JULY 22, 2022 – AUSTIN, TX – MOHAWK
JULY 23, 2022 – HOUSTON, TX – WAREHOUSE LIVE
JULY 26, 2022 – NEW ORLEANS, LA – GASA GASA
JULY 27, 2022 – ATLANTA, GA – ROOFTOP AT THE EASTERN
JULY 28, 2022 – MEMPHIS, TN – GROWLERS
AUGUST 5, 2022 – NASHVILLE, TN – EASTSIDE BOWL

To stay up to date on Arlie’s music, check out their website and follow their social media:

ARLIE OFFICIAL WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM| FACEBOOK| YOUTUBE| TWITTER

In the meantime, listen to Arlie’s Break The Curse below!

enordhof Author
Hello! I love writing about a variety of topics, such as books and music, and have my own blog, https://readingandwritingthroughlife.com/. I also do freelance work, which you can see more of on my portfolio website, https://erinfreelancewriting.com/.
×
enordhof Author
Hello! I love writing about a variety of topics, such as books and music, and have my own blog, https://readingandwritingthroughlife.com/. I also do freelance work, which you can see more of on my portfolio website, https://erinfreelancewriting.com/.

1 Comment

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.