Rally Cry

Rally Cry

Since their 2008 debut, Arkells have gradually softened their essence to take more cues from modern pop and R&B. And after their 2017 walk-off-homer of a single, “Knocking at the Door,” they’re eager to keep swinging for the fences. “I’ve been sitting in coach, but I’m ready for the big leagues,” sings frontman Max Kerman on the Hamilton, Ontario band’s fifth album, and he’s come armed with 10 full-hearted jams to justify the promotion. With the gently cascading opening serenade, “Hand Me Downs,” practically serving as a farewell to their humble indie roots, Rally Cry swiftly gets down to the business of accelerating Arkells’ transformation into dance floor-bound rabble-rousers. “American Screams” sets scenes of Vegas decadence to swaggering disco; “People’s Champ” is a windswept yacht-rock tune that rails against the sort of one-percenters who could afford to buy a yacht. And on the album’s gospel-funk centerpiece, “Eyes on the Prize,” the band’s working-class values and pop ambitions fuse to glorious effect, with Kerman showcasing a storytelling flow that reimagines Springsteen for the post-Drake era.

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