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Arms

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“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.

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