The four wildmen of ABC GUM are collectively responsible for heaps of great Bloomington rock records, with a lineup that boasts members of The Cowboys, The Dancing Cigarettes, Purple 7 and Sir Deja Doog, just to name a few. The New Arcade finds the boys mining sweet rock candy from the sounds of rock'n'roll's past, but tempering it with a darkness that rightfully reflects our present tension. The tunes range from upbeat bubblegum pop to raw garage stompers, and while there are a handful of lighthearted tales on here that recall past pop confections in their celebration of lust and love, you’re just as likely to find the boys feeling downhearted and dejected or conjuring visions of the grave. But even when things get grim or violent the New Arcade still comes off sounding like one big party and finally gives the outside world a glimpse of what Midwestern basement dwellers have been getting down to for the past couple of years.
Our take: Debut vinyl from this band out of Bloomington, Indiana. As I was listening I thought the vintage, 60s-style production and songwriting chops reminded me of the Cowboys, and indeed the Cowboys share members with ABC Gum. The vibe here is a little different, combining the naive-sounding lyrics and vocals of Television Personalities with hooky American power-pop like the Nerves, the Speedies, or the Shoes. Like the Cowboys, ABC Gum tread a lot of ground across this LP, ranging from angrier tracks like “On Your Side” and “My Wild Life” to poppier tracks like “Lovey Quicksand” and “Lack of Sleep,” ending with the quirky, organ-driven “New Arcade.” The production is spot-on and the hooks are plentiful, so if you’re into quality, retro-sounding power-pop I’d grab this along with that new Whiffs LP.