Album Review: Arkells – Campfire Chords

Canadian rock outfit Arkells, have blessed the world with Campfire Chords today. 

When we say blessed – let’s face it, the world has been blessed by Arkells simply existing. A fire live band, Arkells have no trouble winning over fans once they introduce their music to them. And With Campfire Chords, the band show us a more relaxed side of their usually energetic music.

Campfire Chords is a stripped-back collection of Arkells’ most beloved songs and marks the band’s first full-length presentation of this side of their music. Whilst Arkells were busy recording their next studio album, the pandemic hit and locked us all inside. So the band went back to their roots, reinterpreting past material and rediscovering the singer-songwriter spirit that has long informed their trademark sing-a-longs.

The reinterpretation of songs came straight from their bedrooms, and shows a more vulnerable side of the Arkells with mellow melodies, strumming guitars and campfire staples such as harmonicas and tambourines.  The 19-track album kicks off with recent fan favourites Knocking At The Door and Years In The Making, as well as brand new track Quitting You. 

Tracks like A Little Rain (A Song For Pete) and Michigan Left with their gospel like spirit lead the way with their uplifting feel and forming of togetherness amongst its listeners. And then the love songs, they hit home even more – because what’s more romantic than a campfire and a guitar? Don’t we all secretly want Max to serenade us with the gushingly beautiful And Then Some by the fire side?!

Moving on from swooning – actually not quite just yet. Because it is simply impossible to not absolutely adore Campfire Chords, especially when you find out that this week, Arkells went on a cross-country road trip to hand out burnt CDs of the album to fans.

Speaking of being in love, the hugely anthemic My Heart’s Always Yours, has been rearranged to one of the slowest and quietest tracks on this album, and it’s so unexpectedly gorgeous. Similarly, 11:11, usually an upbeat huge track, turns into a let’s-get-out-of-this-town-and-drive-all-night kinda tune, that really REALLY makes you want to be in love.

And finally, Leather Jackets closes off a collection of songs we will sure cherish. The 2014 track off the band’s album High Noon, is staple in an Arkells live show. Having thousands of people sing along to the epic chorus, and eventually the legendary outro of “Who the f*ck uses a payphone” wonderfully ties it all together and has us missing those live moments with Arkells more than ever.

Campfire Chords makes us want to light a fire in the backyard, invite all our friends over for a socially distance get together with lots of booze, dancing, smiling and a whole bunch of Arkells to go around.