Armlock 'Seashell Angel Lucky Charm'

Product Information //

This item is a pre-order that will ship to arrive on street date of July 12 2024

Armlock make music for having your head in the clouds. On their new album, Seashell Angel Lucky Charm, the Australian duo of Simon Lam and Hamish Mitchell take you through a steady ascension into heavenly sonic realms. The band’s second proper release, and first for Run For Cover Records, Seashell Angel Lucky Charm taps onto the songwriters’ roots in experimental electronic roots and filters them through an indie rock lens, drawing the listener in close with crystal clear guitars, tight rhythms, warm harmonies, and sparse arrangements that leave room for character and eccentricities. The result is an album of inventively minimal music that does a lot with a little. 
Friends for 14 years, Lam (vocals and guitar) and Mitchell (guitar and keyboards) have been in their fair share of musical projects together and apart. The two met studying jazz at Monash University in Melbourne, eventually discovering a shared love of electronic music. After a handful of electronic and dance outlets (I’lls, Couture, Kllo) Armlock came together through the band’s natural camaraderie and comfort with collaboration, and the two began incorporating guitar into the music they were making for the first time. Capable of recording and engineering the whole project themselves, the pair never needed to be precious with studio time. Instead they preferred venturing down songwriting rabbit holes, chasing down a feeling and layering ideas at their home studios, unsure where a song would ultimately land. “There’s no real distinction between writing, demoing, and final production, it’s all done at the same time,” says Lam. “It’s a workflow that is much more common in electronic music and how we started making music together.”

Seashell Angel Lucky Charm is the imaginative and sonically detailed result. The gentle vocals sit up front, often buoyed by fragile guitar lines and a simple but steady beat, and ample space is left for production flourishes like distant laughter, chopped up samples, and pitched squeals to ping around the listener’s ears. “We very much have a 'throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks' approach,” explains Lam. “We focus a lot on how an element sounds, rather than what an element is–if there's a guitar part that’s not quite working, rather than try a different guitar effect or amp sound, we're more likely to replace it with a keyboard, or a sample. A 'sound' is just as important as a 'part' to us, and I think that’s how a lot of electronic producers think.”

Every sound on Seashell Angel Lucky Charm feels precise and intentional, making the earcandy choruses on tracks like “Fear” and “El Oh Ve Ee'' feel like expertly placed moments of guitar pop bliss. These two songs show Armlock’s savvy with harmony as they use octaves of angelic sounds to stretch a simple one-word chorus until it soars with meaning. Throughout Seashell Angel Lucky Charm, guitar is used sparingly and thoughtfully–more like a tool in Armlock’s belt rather than the primary songwriting vessel. On “Godsend” an airy acoustic provides the sturdy foundation, ushering the groove forward with uncomplicated chord progressions and leaving the focus on Lam’s voice.

Armlock’s sound at times recalls Pinback’s lean alternative, Alex G’s adventurous indie, or the wave of mysterious-yet-endearing genre-bending music coming out of the UK from label’s like Dean Blunt’s World Music or Vegyn’s PLZ Make It Ruins. Album opener “Ice Cold” provides a perfect entry point into Armlock’s world and their skill with coalescing disparate influences. One trap beat away from a Bladee track, the song begins with robotic voices reminiscent of Boards of Canada and evolves into the meditative warmth found in Adrianne Lenker’s more lo-fi work. There’s a subdued tenderness to Lam’s vocal delivery as he ponders the loss of a friendship and introduces the album’s fixation on air signs and higher dimensions.

Lyrically, Armlock’s music is often seeped with a very human desire to not only find guidance in the enormity of existence, but also to find something deeper in the mundane. “I was brought up Catholic, and I've definitely turned away from Christianity in my adult life but in recent years I've kind of missed that extra layer of meaning that religion adds to everyday life,” Lam says. “I've never written songs about that kind of thing, and it's definitely pretty abstract, but it’s interesting to write about something that isn't in my physical life but still feels like I'm talking about something 'real.’”

Album highlight “Guardian” cuts to the heart of this theme with Lam looking “Somewhere up above” for “something or someone,” sifting through everyday life, trying to decide if the divine numbers he’s noticing on license plates are signs or happenstance. As guitar bends and piano rolls across the song’s structure until it fades into an airy soundscape where Lam yearns for a guardian through hushed vocals and chirping birds. “Ready for my essence to be found / ‘Cause I’m seeing their number all around / Guide me safe, lead me from harm / My seashell angel lucky charm.” Elsewhere these more esoteric ideas intersect with romantic longing, like on “El Oh Vee Ee” or “Godsend,” the former an upbeat earworm and the latter a richly produced cut of creative guitar pop. 

Seashell Angel Lucky Charm manages to walk a fine line: impressionistic yet accessible, ambiguous yet refreshingly earnest. Armlock immerse you in their world but they don’t hold your hand, allowing you to be the one to discover the melodies and ideas within. It’s an impressive feat for only 18 minutes of music and it will leave you searching for more–and luckily you can hit repeat right away. 

1. Ice Cold
2. Fear
3. Guardian
4. El Oh Vee Ee
5. Seashell Angel Lucky Charm
6. Godsend
7. Fair
Includes etched b-side