Joseph Arthur: Nuclear Daydream

By Sarah Moore

After being in the music scene for a decade with the help of Peter Gabriel and his label, Real World Records, Joseph Arthur has produced a disc of complex pop. It's the first album on his own label [Lonely Astronaut Records]. Arthur plays most of the instruments, pressing his seal into his signature sound. Equal parts modern electronic and bare acoustic, Nuclear Daydream spans the pop and folk genres.

Arthur fuses gritty, acoustic guitar with synth and looping techniques to create multilayered compositions. One mood drifts into another with a dark edge. His use of theremin in "Electrical Storm" brings a sense of magic and infinity to the fold. Beginning with soft guitar and vocals, the song subtly fleshes out into an otherworldly, existentialist lullaby. Standout track "You Are Free" exhibits how the exceptional can be found in simple things, where Arthur's basic harmonies and lyrics haunt your ears well after the song ends.

While he channels other artists like Beck [on "Too Much to Hide"], U2, and the rhythmic swagger of Blur's "Coffee and TV" [on "Enough to Get Away"], Arthur also offers an original voice. On Daydream Arthur opts for diversity in his songwriting formula. He's not afraid to explore finer, soft sounds as well as heavy, thick tones. He embraces his falsetto just as openly as his natural baritone, and he keeps the instrumentation to a minimum. He does not feel a need to overfill everything, adding just the right amount of harmonica accents and simple drumbeats. What stands out is Arthur's versatile songwriting ability that ranges from the effervescent, Christian rock of "Don't Tell Your Eyes" to co-dependent love ballad "Woman."

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[Published on: 1/11/07]

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G$Love starstarstarstar Fri 1/12/2007 04:54PM
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Joseph Arthur is writing some of the most interesting pop music out there today, this album is great. I loved Our Shadows Will Remain, but I think this one is a more complete album from start to finish. There is reference to Beck, U2 and Blur, in the review but it's tough to not compare the vocals to Fine Young Cannibals on certain tracks, and "Enough to Get Away" is quite Belle and Sebastian, at least in the phrasing. If you dig songwriting, get this album.

Rinosquad starstarstar Sun 1/14/2007 10:18AM
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I don't know why all this pop talk is taking place. His albums are uunconventional waves of singer/songwriter status that are unlike any on the scene right now. yeah some blur but belle an sebastian, U2 not really. his best albums are his first three, "Big City Streets," "Come to Where I'm From," "Redemption's Son." and his all instrumental album that just came out with an artbook, "We Almost Made It" is also great. So check out this site for a more complete review

YodaG starstarstarstarstar Fri 1/19/2007 02:20PM
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This is simply a FANTASTIC record. For those who want to hear it, it is streaming from his site and there are also some tracks on the label website, He also has like 5 different MySpace pages ( One even has a Notorious Big cover at the moment. This guy is deep, if you like modern poetry check out his MySpace blogs. He adds a few everyday. His shiz is quite captivating.

theivywall Sun 1/28/2007 02:03PM
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Joseph Arthur is pretty badass