Perfect Saviors

Perfect Saviors

“Does anyone even know you?/Does anyone even care?” That’s just one of the many existential questions put forth by The Armed on Perfect Saviors. This time around, the multifaceted, multitasking, multicultural, willfully mysterious collective peer through the cracked lens of everyone’s smartphone to examine the cultural chaos, social media narcissism, virtue signaling, and performative blah-blah-blah of our current moment. You know: the Modern Malaise. On songs like “Sport of Measure” and “Sport of Form,” they’re not talking about Monday Night Football or the UFC or even (necessarily) the endless public humiliations of celebrity athletes. No, it’s a much nastier blood sport The Armed are interested in: The daily Lord of the Flies competition for likes, followers, and views. They even issued a press release about it: “Perfect Saviors is the soundtrack to a single movie with 7.5 billion roles.” According to vocalist and spokesperson Tony Wolski (who may or may not have formerly been known as Adam Vallely), the single “Everything’s Glitter” was inspired by David Bowie’s first US press tour. It looks at what Wolski—who directed the video for the track and co-produced Perfect Saviors—calls “the razor’s edge between icon and clown.” The song itself sounds like The Strokes being calmly fed into a Vitamix. So does “Clone,” which appears two songs earlier. Between them is “Modern Vanity,” which sounds like a seasick, drug-induced fantasy headache written by stone-cold teetotalers. Meanwhile, “Liar 2” is a dance track about being hopelessly depressed. Probably. The point here—and on “Modern Vanity,” and elsewhere on Perfect Saviors—seems to be the juxtaposition, the pairing of opposites. It’s what The Armed have thrived upon since their inception in 2009 but elevated to an art form on their celebrated 2021 album, Ultrapop. In fact, most of Perfect Saviors is a seesawing mashup of indie rock, post-hardcore, and strobe-effect electronics, but (usually) without the abrupt stylistic U-turns many of their sonically schizophrenic peers go in for. Toward the end of the record, we get some melancholy sax (“In Heaven”) and a Radiohead-style mood piece complete with free-jazz skronk, sad piano, sadder strings, and a slow fade into oblivion. That one’s called “Public Grieving.” As on the band’s previous outings, Perfect Saviors has cameos. But this time, the guest list is more crowded than usual. Featuring appearances from indie darling Julien Baker, avant-garde saxophonist Patrick Shiroishi, and Chavez/ex-Zwan guitarist Matt Sweeney alongside dudes from Jane’s Addiction, Queens of the Stone Age, and Red Hot Chili Peppers—plus too many more to list here—the album is crammed with people from other bands. At the same time, The Armed will put Iggy Pop in one of their videos (“Sport of Form”) without getting him to perform on the song itself. It’s the equivalent of taking a selfie with a rock star whose music you’re not actually familiar with. Which is probably the point.

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