James Arthur's Manhunt
Digital Clubbing (12XU)
Reviewed by Michael Toland, Fri., Sept. 23, 2016
Guitarist James Arthur kicked axe for the Golden Boys, Fireworks, Necessary Evils, and more, but his own Manhunt stokes hottest. Wisely burying his gravelly wail amidst the six-string blasts and amplifier abuse, Arthur vomits out a version of space rock that snuffs out the stars instead of celebrating them. Like a low-budget Helios Creed after mistaking speed for acid, "Blackbird" and "Come Down" race desperately down the cosmic highway, phasers on stun; "Kill Zone" pulls back the tempo but not the level of insanity. The bottleneck biker grunge of "Chain" and sonic overload of "Wired" hide melodies most punters could sing along with, and the near-ballad "Hanging Tree" reveals an actual heart beating beneath the sonic sludge. "Blowout" and "Butcher" bookend the set with instrumentals that put Ennio Morricone somewhere in the Crab Nebula. Hinging on Arthur's filthy guitar tone and go-for-broke attitude, Digital Clubbing takes off on a rocket built in the garage and blasted through the roof.