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Chairs in the Arno “File Folder” Review

Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

Chairs in the Arno’s debut, File Folder, is strikingly smooth in comparison to the band’s electronic-driven rock counterparts, focusing on casual lyrics and vocal harmonies rather than attempting to struggle towards making each track 2004-chic or danceable. The eight song set serves as a short-playing scrapbook of stories and inside jokes amongst the band, each track helping to distinguish the its members as a group of playful youth slightly past their youthful years. The band’s name itself directly coming from a drunken night of college-aged shenanigans while on a European trip together, one night concluding in the tossing of furniture into Italy’s expansive Arno river. But youthful optimism or casual indifference fail to capture the essence of the band’s music, that being something far more innocent and oddly unyielding.

File Folder is unwavering in that it has a definite formula to which its songs stick to; a sound along the lines of a relaxed Atom and His Package shuffled together with tech-friendly lyrics all set to the key of that final scene in Juno where Michael Cera and Ellen Page sing and play adoringly to one another – you know the one. And if such a description sounds a bit unimaginable, the track “Size Thirty” does wonders in proving it a worthy characterization, guitarist Jeff Excell and keyboardist Becca Hsu flirtatiously teasing each other about their clothes for a couple of minutes before the song fades away.

It is such a sense of playfulness that really puts this album over, the opening track “Never Loved You Anyways” being another key example. While not entirely following the same pattern, the story parallels that which many experience growing up, one of two friends who (many times drunkenly) start kissing only to realize that they always made better friends than lovers. The song represents more of a narrative of inner dialog where its subjects attempt to convince themselves that life will go on however, giving it an oddly adult-feel. Such sentiment is what helps the album succeed, Chairs in the Arno capture that moment in life when you realize that it’s alright to begin to reflect on the fun you’ve had, that moment you realize you’re some strange form of an adult – all the while knowing that there will be plenty of good times to still be had.