“This Isn’t a Good Night For Walking” – Arches

One more twosome in what has inadvertently turned out to be “duo week” here. Of the three, Philadelphia’s Arches may be the least-likely-sounding band-that’s-only-two-people of all, because of how spacious this music is. The song is long by Fingertips’ standards—six and a half minutes—but hang with it. The length is part of the space. So of course is the reverb. But there’s more to it than that; the time the song takes to unfold and the echoey ambiance don’t create the space as much as model it. There’s something large and unhurried in the air here, a sense that the music needs the time it’s taking, if that makes any sense.

A concrete symbol of this need for space is the band’s use of hesitation throughout the song, both figuratively and literally. What I mean by “figurative” hesitation you can hear right away in the back-and-forth guitar chords employed in the introduction (and throughout), which pivot on one whole-step interval. On a piano this would be played by your index and middle finger, alternating in an even rhythm—which, if you think about what that looks like, is a gesture of waiting (the idle, or sometimes impatient, tapping of those two fingers). The sound sounds like it. Literal hesitation otherwise suffuses “This Isn’t A Good Night For Walking,” in everything from how the keyboards swing slightly behind the beat to the subtle way the back-and-forth chords get microscopically delayed as the song develops (say, at around 1:38), to how the five-note keyboard motif we hear in the foreground at 4:07 gets held up maybe a split second with each recurring statement. And then there’s the grandest hesitation of all: the way the lyrics disappear just past the halfway point, only after which the song takes us to its musical climax: a dramatic, strangely satisfying guitar-led iteration of the song’s verse.

“This Isn’t A Good Night For Walking” is the first available song from a forthcoming, yet-untitled album that Arches hopes to release before year’s end. MP3 via Pitchfork.