Armed with a profound and slightly prophetic title and artwork clearly influenced by Guernica-era Picasso, it's clear from the outset that this is going to be a pretty brooding, serious offering from Mr Arthur. With a dark, potent song content and a broad palette of sounds on offer, he certainly doesn't disappoint on that front. It's little wonder then that he's made considerable waves on the other side of the pond when this was released last year quite why it took over eight months to get a release over here is a bit baffling. Shame.
Brief icebreaker "In Ohio" with high-octane, waiflike vocals from Arthur introduces a bit of mysticism to proceedings, before the poppiest moment of the album "Can't Exist" comes in with Arthur in extreme gravel voice, Tom Waits-esque mode. The first two tracks are typical of how effortlessly Arthur switches between ambiences and mood throughout the work.
Soon, "Stumble and Pain" adds a bit of grit to things, complete with crunching beats and vocals that reflect the foreboding title - top marks also for the false, unsuspecting ending, before sweeping, grandiose strings finish the job off. Nice. Later, the melodic "Devil's Broom" with highly impassioned vocals and melodic hooks, gives way to the decidedly Eels like respite that is "Echo Park" which with it's twee orchestrals elevates the tone a bit, yet lacks in crucial substance.
"Shadows" is undeniably at its strongest though when Arthur is in liberated, experimental mode. "Wasted", for example, fuses artificial, electronic beats with sparse, haunting atmospherics and decidedly effeminate vocals from Arthur's proving what a dextrous voice box the man has. While juxtaposing this, "I Am" is almost anarchic, complete with snarling vocals, ominous noises and a rhythmic ditty of Repeat the words I am.
Such moments truly hint at greatness with Arthur. It's just a slight shame that "Puppets" and unsentimental closer "Leave Us Alone" offer us nothing new from what can be found elsewhere on this work and earlier albums Christ at some points such is the man's hoarseness, you're gagging to give him a throat lozenge.
A mature, thoughtful and at times very poignant album, true, this album isn't really one for the kids but if you love country-tinged rock with a twist this is a wet dream come true. For everyone else, "Our Shadows Will Remain" is an intriguing listen well worth embracing for its lofty high points.
by Scott Colothan