In the fall of 2017, singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur and R.E.M. lead guitarist Peter Buck joined forces in Mexico to collaboratively write and record eleven rock/pop songs for a self-titled album predictably titled Arthur Buck. With Arthur providing the vocals and Buck providing the lead guitar work, the results are a slickly produced collection of tracks whose lyrics focus largely on the current political climate in the United States without being so obvious as to make these recordings irrelevant ten years from now.
The album opens with Buck’s signature lead before synthetic-sounding percussion and subtle samples play around spritely strummed guitars and Joseph Arthur’s vocals. “I Am The Moment” makes for a solid start with lovely female backing “ahs” during the track’s choruses and Arthur singing lines like, “Take your time, there is no need for you to rewind, or put a rope around the neck in your mind.” Many of the albums’ lyrics deal with spirituality and opening your third eye as if Arthur Buck are continually reminding listeners the importance of staying woke and utilizing thoughtful positivity and self-reflection to bring about enlightenment.
“Are You Electrified?” features some excellent lead guitar work and provides a firm kick into overdrive on the powerful choruses with both men digging deep to deliver the goods. The minute-long plaintive “Summertime” offers a midpoint ear-reset before the excellent sociopolitical banger “American Century” arrives. “Someone took American century, someone took American dreams, someone took American century, where’s the revolution in the streets?” Arthur asks during the track’s catchy, infectiously danceable chorus.
Joseph Arthur’s vocals are featured on every song and his singing voice ranges everywhere from a gentle croon to a low, monotonous growl that’s at times only slightly smoother and more melodic than Marilyn Manson’s. It’s safe to say if you’re not a fan of Joseph Arthur’s singing and you aren’t consistently bowled over by Peter Buck’s guitar playing, this record may wear out its welcome after only a few songs. If, however, you’re a fan of both Joseph Arthur and Peter Buck, this album does offer some fine standout moments.