“I was exhausted,” says Todd Goldstein, reflecting on the years since the release of his band ARMS’ lush, ambitious 2011 album, Summer Skills. “I put everything I had into that album—creatively, emotionally—I had nothing left in me.” After spending his mid-20s playing guitar in New York’s much-loved Harlem Shakes and the ensuing years crafting two albums and an EP as ARMS, Todd took a sharp turn away from music. He went back to school to study design; he spent long afternoons throwing down in the kitchen; he looked elsewhere to find his creative kicks. Eventually though, he remembered why he can’t help but write songs. ARMS’ EP2 is the proof.
The product of a long, slow collaboration with drummer Tlacael Esparza, EP2 feels both urgent and relaxed, its five home-recorded pop songs projecting a lived-in looseness without sacrificing an ounce of tension. “Comfort,” the EP’s opening track, seems at first to be about music—or a girl. But, unlike most love songs that pull this double duty, the message of “Comfort” is unexpected: Neither one is a prescription for the ailments of real life. “Sleepwalker” plays like an insomniac’s wake-up call, dressing a careening rhythm in melancholic guitar figures and peals of glowing distortion, while “Up & Up” is the late-night ripper, an album closing comedown that refuses to land. EP2 is the sound of a kid with a worried mind—a frequent character in Todd’s musical universe—learning to let go at last. It only seems right that ARMS’ leanest, most immediate record would finally arrive after leaving it all behind.
ARMS is Todd Goldstein and Tlacael Esparza. ARMS has shared the stage with Passion Pit, Walkmen, Beach House, White Rabbits, The Long Winters, A Place to Bury Strangers, Japandroids, Hospitality, Caveman, Asobi Seksu, and more.