When their Swedish brethren were skipping town two by two in 2002, glam rockers the Ark were busy applying eyeliner and affixing glitter to their jumpsuits.
Four years later, the Ark have finally come ashore, proudly, brazenly waving the glam flag. Yet while the band takes style tips from forefathers like David Bowie and Queen, the Ark’s music features more minimalist instrumentals and lyrics caustic enough to melt the sequins off your leotard. But with their latest, State of the Ark, they are more inspired by the acidic wit of Hedwig and the Angry Inch: On “Rock City Wankers,” frontman Ola Salo takes aim at New York City rockers, noting that “Just because you’re full of it / It doesn’t mean that you’re the shit,” to the tune of slick guitars, bouncy bass lines, and jangly synths.
The Ark have reason to be a little miffed — it’s taken them fifteen years to get noticed in the U.S. And while on past albums, the band has been known to tackle a controversial issue or two (such as gay adoption rights on “Father of a Son”), this time, it’s personal: “I’m not singing to raise affection,” Salo notes in the first few lines of the album. “This piece of poetry is meant to do harm.”
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