Several months ago, The Armed dropped one of the most charismatic records of the year. Ultrapop has remained on constant repeat since then for… well, most of us, and we couldn’t be more excited to see how these songs play out live.
But of course, it seems we have a hell of a lot more than that to look forward to with the band’s upcoming album, Ultrapop Live. The band’s long parlayed protagonist? Check. Golden goddess/oracle feature? Check. Human-sized stuffed animals? Check. More band members? Perhaps. Get a first taste of this absolutely mind-boggling slice of art punk below, and know that if you find yourself confused, intrigued, and excited, you are far from alone.
We’d say “WHERE MAN KNOWS WANT” was one of our favorite songs off of Ultrapop, but really, we couldn’t even establish a top five. Every track on the album is infinitely rewarding, and we still hear new details or find new meaning in the songs today. This particular slice is a frisky disco-riffing thrill ride, and the video matched that intensity in spades.
So up to this point, Ultrapop Live seems represent the most complete understanding of the band and it’s full potential. But it remains subjective – all of this being said, there are still many questions to be asked about The Armed, and today, we attempt to distill five predictions after watching the trailer and first single dozens of times.
Let us know what you think, or if you have any predictions of your own to add to the mix!
Prediction #1: An Extended Cast
Seconds into the video for “WHERE MAN KNOWS WANT,” two familiar characters pop up – a strange bear, and the golden woman from the trailer. Out of context and quickly submerged in dance-ified chaos, their appearances go by rather quickly. But we’ve actually met these characters before.
In the music video, before the official madness of “AN ITERATION” kicks in, the same duo is seen repairing a broken car. Of course, it’s a trio if you count the company of the band’s most consistent character, Dan Greene. Might we see a cameo from the swamp monster or Christiane Capone? Who is to say.
Prediction #2: Multiple Versions of the Band
Something that we didn’t really notice until writing this was that some of the members of the band, at least the one’s on the dance floor, weren’t all the same ones presented with in the video for “ALL FUTURES.” Many of them ARE there, but there are additions as well, and possibly substitutions. Just compare the “ALL FUTURES” video below to the cast above. Most notably, you never see the massive keyboard guy at the disco. But you do see a guy that looks a lot like Stephen Brodsky – we’re not sure it’s him though.
We’re sure muscle man is just waiting around the corner somewhere though. In the cinematic trailer that Sargent House put out a few weeks ago for Ultrapop Live, he’s clearly seen enjoying a juicy pop to the neck joints.
Prediction #3: The 4th Wall Won’t Just Be Breached, It Will Be Shattered
There’s a moment in the trailer where Dan Greene seems to be orchestrating the members in some kind of psychic basement shenanigans. It’s no secret that the band’s heavy use of anonymity and visual trickery is often used to convey a heady theme or two, constantly blurring the lines between identity, art, and consciousness itself. But perhaps this is where they will take it to another level. Dan Greene controls the band… but who controls Dan Greene?
The Armed have already stated that Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was a huge influence on this portion of the band’s narrative, so we can only pray that one day we’ll understand it. At least we already enjoy it! It’s no wonder they shot this thing at The Masonic – it’s apparently got Kyballion levels of depth to it.
Prediction #4: It’s Going To Sound Amazing
For better or for worse, much of Ultrapop is literally shrouded in distortion. Have we listened to it till our ears bled either way? Pretty much. For instance, I actually had no idea there was any kind of discernible guitar chord or progression in the first part of “WHERE MAN KNOWS WANT,” at least on the record. But here we have a much more natural sounding mix, and everything sounds so much clearer. We understand now Greene and co likely prefer the sonic secrecy of the record, just so they can roll out presentations like this. Well, understand is a strong word.
Prediction #5: We Will Be Just As Confused At The End of This
The Armed have been playing us for years now, and it seems like we’re only just catching on to things. It would be a shame if Ultrapop Live were to put an end to the band’s mystery prematurely. But we have little reason to think that it will. If you look closely through the stills in the video for “AN ITERATION,” there are a fair amount of visual references to both the untitled and Only Love album cycles.
Truth be told, literally the most confusing thing The Armed have ever done is actually this:
Here’s to as many games and mind-melting schemes Dan Greene can muster. We can’t wait to see more.
Get your tickets for the Ultrapop Live experience here.