Review: Personal Best – Arnos Vale

The sun’s coming out, everyone’s feeling less gloomy and summer seems like it’s just around the corner. Sounds like the perfect time for a new Personal Best record to come out, yeah? Well, you’re in luck – Arnos Vale is out this week and it’s absolutely cracking.

Of course, that’s to be expected with the melody-wrangling superteam that is Katie, Tom and (at the time of recording) Lou, who have an impressive back catalogue of hits from their time in Bedford Falls, Attack Vipers and Caves respectively. It starts out strong with ‘If You Meet Someone In Love’, which instantly hits you with a wall of full-on riffage and perfect singalong opportunities. Katie’s vocals strike the perfect tone, and it’s impossible not to join in. Perhaps that’s the most impressive thing about Arnos Vale – at every step of the way, you kind of feel like you’re part of the gang, and that’s what music should be all about. It’s impossible not to relate to tracks like ‘Human Nature’ or ‘This Time Next Year’, and it makes you want to pick up a guitar or a drumstick yourself. After all, if being in a band can be as fun as Arnos Vale makes it seem, why aren’t we all doing it?

For all the brilliant chorus-and-riff bangers, Personal Best are not afraid to get a little weird in places either. The verses in ‘Poor Old You’ are backed with this brilliant, spidery riff and ‘This Is What We Look Like’ has a real grungy chorus with some fantastic distortion. Arnos Vale gives everyone a chance to try out something a bit different to their usual projects, and although the record has some super 90s vibes, it still sounds totally fresh and completely unique.

Arnos Vale is an absolute gem of a record. Unflinchingly honest and often beautiful, Personal Best have put together 24 minutes of solid joy. It’s super posi-indie-pop and it makes no apologies for it. Although Lou will be moving on to different things, there’s no doubt that the next Personal Best record will be just as fun. However, for now, know that Arnos Vale exists and the planet is far better for it.

4.5 out of 5 high fives!