Chicagoan Mike Fox launched Arthhur a few years ago to explore any musical style he pleased. Multi-instrumentalist Matt Ciani, who plays with Fox in doom four-piece Flesh of the Stars, quickly joined the fold, and the two have since steered Arthhur through whimsical indie rock (2018’s come meet the opposite committee), somber ambient (2020’s Let’s Go Piss in the Lake), and more. The best version of Arthhur thus far appeared on the December 2018 album Lost in the Walled City, thanks in part to sharp contributions from the band’s newest member, bassist and percussionist Luke Dahlgren. That release evokes the magic of early-2000s dance punk with taut, twitchy instrumentation whose precision accelerates the music’s feeling of euphoria.
Arthhur’s self-released new album, Occult Fractures, disciplines the feral energy of Walled City while maintaining its intensity; a funky, serrated bass loop and a ceaselessly blinking synth sustain slow-burning opus “Antihistamine Money” through its quiet-before-the-storm lows and its crescendos fueled with kitchen-sink percussion. Arthhur enlisted five guest musicians to help tease out a more textured sound that leans into the boogie side of their dance-punk style—the sleek, scintillating title track, for instance, goes whole hog on disco, with warm keys, smooth-jazz guitar flourishes, gentle bass lines, and synthetic flute melodies. The songs concern themselves with more than gradations of genre and style, though; via their tongue-in-cheek lyrics they also bring lacerating critiques of media sensationalism (“Doom Journalism”) and aspirations born from lifestyle-marketing gimmicks (“Ripped and Dumb”) into their grooves. A great dance song can do more than simply get your body moving. v