The Armed: Perfect Saviors (Sargent House) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, November 28th, 2023  

The Armed

Perfect Saviors

Sargent House

Sep 01, 2023 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

The Armed have, until recently, presented themselves as “functionally anonymous,” a revolving door lineup boasting members of Converged, Queens of the Stone Age, and Jane’s Addiction, alongside multitudinous creative friends and musical acquaintances.

This lack of definition (in contrast to their ludicrous physical musculature), the promise of the unknown, the mysterious and the ever-evolving, led to a reputation that conjured as much discussion over their identity as their music. They sent actors to interviews, faked their names and credentials, refused to offer anything tangible—other than the music.

2021’s breakthrough ULTRAPOP was a shimmering beast of a record—gleaming with sweat, roaring with angst, and side-swiping commercialism while simultaneously celebrating it. It was made all the more delicious by the band’s apocalyptic live shows; a frantic mass of voices, everything louder than everything else, a presentation that smashed together gym bro, Pagan ritual, and S&M dungeon. All this was received by the band’s extremely committed following as no less than a benediction.

The Armed’s measured anti-image appears to have been abandoned of late. In advance of Perfect Saviors they declared themselves the brainchild of mild-mannered supermarket clerk “Dan Greene.” Though, soon after admitting they are, in fact, for realsies this time, pinky swear, the creation of advertising executive and music video maker Tony Wolski you’re left wondering if the reveal is all part of the trick; a kind of meta-kayfabe.

Look, either you’re into this kinda deal, find Andy Kaufman, Andy Warhol, and Andrew WK (what is it with these Andys?) endlessly fascinating or you think it’s pretentious nonsense meted out by those afforded the privilege to play with status, but your indulgence isn’t something that’s going to be tested by Perfect Saviors; it renders the ephemera irrelevant by delivering a monolithic musical statement which leaves the story of the band reduced to trivia dust while still exploring notions of duality and miscommunication. It’s not an album where you think about The Armed, it’s an album on which you feel them.

It arrives with a strident stretch of unearthly stadium rock, the lullaby-turned-blastbeat euphoria of “Sport of Measure.” The first thing you’ll notice is that it sounds absolutely fucking enormous, Alan Moulder’s bright, buoyant production giving the rampaging songs here a tangibly synthetic, almost sumptuous sheen.

“Existence is a part of the show,” they sing on the swaggering “Everything’s Glitter” with a singalong hook (the fist-pumping “I cannot break cos I’m a heartbreaker/I will stand tall, the odds in my favor”), which highlights their ability to pluck moments of tender beauty out of the maelstrom. This is most pronounced on the balladeering “In Heaven” which legitimately sounds… not unlike Sufjan Stevens if we’re honest. With a late night sax and a swell of strings, it projects mood and emotion, even when lyrics such as “The world is just a stage, the everlasting gaze” return to their core obsessions with obfuscation and confusion. They’re getting to the heart of things while still toying with notions of reality; it’s a progressive leap forward.

Single “Sport of Form” is at the heart of the album and typifies it perfectly. A giant, stuttering and jarring, losing its mind in a tumult of drums, eventually clambering to a storming peak hand in hand with guest vocalist Julien Baker as they sing “Does anyone even know you?/Does anyone even care?” across the song’s cataclysmic climax.

In their most synthwave and electro-inspired moments they cut a particularly Nine Inch Nails shape, “Modern Vanity” with its industrial crank, “Patient Mind” and “Liar 2” with a dirty disco strut adding a further dimension to the kaleidoscopic nature of the record.

These are songs that scale and plummet, question and confuse, press against the limits of punk rock and, when it’s all over, send you back to the front to be thrilled all over again.

Perfect Saviors is an insidious creature, winding its way gradually into the mind, each new listen revealing a hook or melody that seemingly just wasn’t there on the last. It’s playful, it’s intelligent, but above all else it’s an emotive experience. It doesn’t match ULTRAPOP for surging aggression and roar but it also doesn’t try to—it’s a clenched fist in a velvet glove, a subversive punk record dressed as an arena-ready rock album, and whoever is behind the mask of The Armed should be celebrated not only for that subversion, but for this remarkable and singular explosion of idea and sound. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10


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