Arcade State are another Scottish band showing the world how to do it. They’re Glasgow based, and have been making music together since 2019. Not a long time, but boy, they’re getting it right – not just the music, but all those other facets which make up a good band: an engaging social media presence, providing strong, genuine and selfless support for other artists, and exercising a real social conscience (more on that later).
‘Silence‘ is about the darker side of mental health, including suicide. A heavy but important subject, and kudos to this band for getting out there and tackling it through the medium of relatable music.
As the band told me: “it’s a story of a person who doesn’t show any signs of having demons inside and doesn’t speak to anybody about it, but if they did you would have tried to help them … what we need is people to learn that it’s okay to speak about that battle and get others to help them in their fight against their demons.”
Pondering this brings a further dimension to what’s already a powerful song; there’s a clear connect between the way the music is written, and the message it’s portraying. But no fear – there’s nothing overly earnest or pushy here: it’s straight-up, melodic indie rock. That’s not to say it won’t bring a bit of a tear to your eye or a tug at your heart. It’s a song which is absolutely packed with emotion.
I particularly enjoy the structure of Arcade State‘s songwriting in ‘Silence‘. It starts with a firm, 100% confident stroke of fuzzy, resonant guitar, with vocals appearing quickly on the scene, and with absolute heartfelt passion. I often talk about the joy of a slow build, but the joy here comes from an early peak of energy – it’s all strident, soaring euphoria right from the start – as well as the way that energy is kept up and up. This is a song which pushes forward, always on the front foot.
‘Silence‘ also exudes a sense of strength and overcoming. One standout moment is the way Ciaran Murray’s vocals rise in the third line of the chorus, on the word ‘scar’, pulling you up into the stratosphere with him.
The song goes up, but there are some lovely points where things drop away, just for a few bars, before we’re back to full tempo. It’s like the band are just taking a quick breath, gathering thoughts, and then diving back in. This slight drop in energy is used, cleverly, to bring the song to a close, too – the guitars fading away, leaving the firm driving beat to make its way into the night alone. It’s a great musical metaphor.
As well as preparing for this release, over the past couple of months Arcade State have been involved in projects connected closely with the message behind ‘Silence‘. Proceeds from this song go to Higher Self, a Glasgow mental health support charity, helping deprived young people locally. What’s more, the band also produced a limited run of T-shirts to raise even more.
A short while ago, under the badge of Mind Aid, the band helped release an absolutely beautiful Christmas collaboration: a re-imagining of the Band Aid hit ‘Do they know it’s Christmas?’ Featuring a host of artists sharing the vocals (including Jen Dixon, Greysha, Sam Lambeth, Lottie and PG Ciarletta, among many others), the song aims to raise funds and awareness for Tiny Changes.
You can hear the song in this YouTube video, introduced by none other than Robert Carlyle.
The band told me: “If we can help at least one person then this song’s done exactly what we intended for it.” Lads, something tells me you’ll have met that goal, and much more. Much love, much respect.
Listen to ‘Silence’ here now: https://open.spotify.com/track/2ULXpSmgMcNM1CTOOGxoOb?si=470eb6254ff54ae6
Words by Phil Taylor for Songbird HQ