The online cult of personality that The Armed have built around their music is a great deal of fun. Fans buy billboards in Times Square and commission murals in their honour, postulate conspiracies and theories in Facebook and Discord groups as they solve the puzzles the band have been laying for them across their career, and generally have a wholesome time. It's a mark of The Armed's deftness and intelligence that their fandom can remain both obsessive and inclusive at the same time, never bordering on the weaponised toxicity that has scarred 'Stan' culture elsewhere online. What elevates The Armed from the enjoyable to the essential, however, is the extraordinary strength of their art. The driving force behind all their fans energy is music that feels genuinely essential. Ultrapop as the band's Adam Vallely (almost certainly a pseudonym) explained to me last month, is an attempt to take the intensity of the hardcore music the band grew up on, and by injecting it with modern pop's forward-facing maximalism, up its energy even further still, emerging with a brand new genre from which the album takes its name. In the process, they’re gleefully undercutting the hypermasculine nonsense that can sometimes dog heavier music. Sneer at their ambition if you will, but they've succeeded in that mission. Ultrapop is as bold, dynamic and addictive an album as you'll hear all year.