Arrah and the Ferns Review

Arrah and the Ferns – Evan is a Vegan (Standard Recording Company, 2007)

arrah

Emo Philips


It was to my dismay that upon recently discovering this quartet from Muncie, Indiana, I learned that they infact had already broken up!
Alas, the sweet sweet sounds of Arrah and the Ferns are no more, but rather than dwell on the negative, I prefer to look at the glass as half-full.
They released a gem of an album, which it is my pleasure to now share with you.

AATF span the pop spectrum from the Beatles to Burt Bacharach to the B-52’s with their campy combination of cheerfully up-beat keyboards, crisp electric guitars and 50’s style swing rhythms.
The perfect blend of ear-pleasing pop hooks and kitschy lounge lizard throwbacks are offset by grunge-tastic guitar solos and a distinct sound that ranges from organic folk to post-studio pop.

Evan is a Vegan mixes immaculate pop compositions with skillful low-fi production values to affect an authentic indie garage sound. Arrah’s pitch perfect vocal takes keep it from sounding amateurish or low quality and the discriminating instrument selection avoids a sound that is overdone or contrived.

Their catchy sing-along chorus hooks are paired with unpretentiously ironic and tongue-in-cheek lyrics, resulting in a guilt-free pop listening experience equally suited to chilling out solo or cutting a rug with some chums.

The lyrics of Arrah are a pleasant mix of bittersweet girlish confessions paired with mature insights into love, work, death and the nature of human relationships.
A commentary on the trials of everyday life, the album brings to mind moments spent wandering down sunlight-dappled paths through birch woods, complete with birds singing and cute furry animals.
Far from being saccharine sweet or annoyingly optimistic, Arrah drops the odd strangely macabre line of poetry that leaves the suggestion of a slight edge and self-awareness missing from most lyrical pop compositions.

Bernadette

“If I’m alive this time tomorrow, then I’ll have more time to kill. maybe we could rearrange the furniture?”

A stand-out track for me from the album is “Bernadette,” featuring a distinctly bluegrass good-time feel (care of Arrah’s “banjolin,” a hybrid combination of banjo & mandolin!) reminiscent of sunday front-porch jams, home-brewed moonshine and charmingly rural square dances.

Also of note is their (now-defunct) website, prominently featuring unicorns and rainbows… two supremely cool aesthetic motifs.
Unfortunate as their dis-banding is, I feel their defunct status strangely adds to their indie credibility, placing this group well within the undefinable and highly elusive “cache of exclusiveness.”

nyskylnie2

You can visit their myspace or head over to Standard Recording to purchase “Evan is a Vegan”

happy listening! ;D

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