New Music: Arizona

28th April 2017

They say that when you leave Earth’s atmosphere and ascend into space, you pass through a region that astronauts call ‘The Discotheque of the Angels’.  As you rise, free of gravity, an indescribable sound reaches your ears—no one knows where from.  Apparently it is the most beautiful sensation in the universe.  It only lasts about three minutes, but what you hear, they say, changes your life forever.  Nathan Esquite (guitar), David Labuguen (keyboard) and Zachary Hannah (vocals) are A R I Z O N A.  They are bringing the heavenly boogie down to terra firma with their debut album Gallery, due out on Atlantic on 19 May.

The New Jersey trio have learned how to combine the disparate elements of today’s global grooves into a sound of their own.  It is heavy on the high end, light on the low, a super bliss trip for a club with no fallen angels in it.  Which is cool, because it takes guts to do that.  Even when Zach sings, “I was wrong” over and over, on the track of that name, the tune doesn’t go dark.  Or when he sings –
Pause all these words pause all these words
That we keep aiming with 
Who said it first who said it first
Let’s not go down like this
Take all your pain
Take all of the emotions that you feel
Put them onto me
it is only because he is working up to this: “Give me your electric touch.”  That is not a hot lyric, since if you are going to say those words, you pretty much know the response already.  It is more of an affirmation, an anthem even.  You can hear the influence of Ed Sheeran in the vocal line, and that is due to the band’s collaboration with acclaimed singer-songwriter Julia Michaels, who has worked with the superstar, as well as with Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez.  The video for Electric Touch is a chapter in a real-life love story (watch it and see).  These guys have tapped into a vibe that is very much of the moment, and people have been getting on to this track from Corfu to Taipei.  The sumptuous production, reminiscent of Phantogram, puts you in the mood for sweet surrender.

The album’s twelve tracks maintain an unbroken glide of warm synth tones on a breezy updraft of midtempo beats.  This consistency is Gallery’s strength and A R I Z O N A ’s weakness.  It won’t stay that way for long.  For now, on a planet in dire need of good news, A R I Z O N A is wildly popular.  Check them out.

Words by Erik Noonan
Photograph by Jimmy Fontaine

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