The Armed are a band known for their elusiveness. The mystery surrounding the extreme group is made up of things like fantastical music videos, Ford commercial nods and intentionally deluding the media about who they really are, all for a greater artistic purpose. It works well for them, and it's all a part of the story that makes the Armed so intriguing, seemingly strivers for a future of music, culture and creativity that's as boundless as their collective vision.
Imagine: a monster truck bedazzled in rhinestones. Or maybe, rather, Freddy Krueger singing Lady Gaga. No, actually picture getting the wind knocked out of you by a pink stiletto. These are all crude approximations of what it’s like to listen to The Armed, a band with a sound that has been chiseled down to something precise and prehistoric: a sharp shiv of big hooks and bigger guitars. It’s aggro-pop equally appealing to those of us who want to mosh and those who want to scream along.
Ultrapop. Sugar and spice. Detroit’s the Armed follows its breakthrough 2018 set Only Love with Ultrapop, a daring collection that mixes the fury of hardcore punk and the disorienting riffage of math rock with a dollop of accessibility that spices up the hooks without diluting their intensity. The shift is both delicate and profound, and it’s bound to convert the unconverted. —Craig Jenkins Sargent House, April 16.
The Armed have occasionally frustrated but mostly fascinated the press with constant misdirection about their intentions and identity — the confounding post-hardcore collective’s exploits are well-documentedand worth reading in full, but the sum total portrays them as something like a Tony Hawk-funded ad agency staffed by dozens of people (possibly including Andrew W.K.). Or, possibly the brainchild of Dan Greene, who is actually Kurt Ballou. It was shocking enough that they broke character simply by showing up as themselves in the video for ULTRAPOP lead single “All Futures,” a preview of an album that basically imagines American Gladiators starting Broken Social Scene. More startling is that they looked like that too.
In January, I received a package in the mail. The return address was from Detroit, Michigan and the sender’s name was Kanye West. I knew exactly what this was before I even opened it, and it most certainly was not from Kanye West.