Arkells have always had soulful undertones to their music. They’re not the kind of band that makes you want to brood or ruminate over what’s gone. Instead, they want to ignite a fire behind your eyes and make you want to dance.
The Hamilton, Ontario based band came onto the scene in 2008 with the garage-pop opus Jackson Square, an album with an infectious melodic grit and harmonic, Motown undertones. Over time, their sound devolved into slick, soulful pop-rock that’s often only seconds away from sliding headfirst into a dance number. This sound was captured perfectly on their 2016 album Morning Report, which became the band’s most successful release to date, with the single “Knocking At Your Door” which sat at #1 on the Canadian Alt/Rock charts for 14 weeks.
Arkells have made their return with a music video for their new single “People’s Champ.” The song’s infectious Motown meets Thriller sound is piled high with soulful, ’70s-reminiscent vocal harmonies, triumphant horns, and lush keys that are irresistible from the first note. The song’s sticky hook and call-and-response verses are so catchy that the song’s political message is tough to spot on a first listen. But underneath all the colorful soul is a political call to action.
When asked about the song, frontman, Max Kerman said “‘People’s Champ’ is a political song, but also a joyful one,” said frontman Max Kerman in a press release. “There’s a pulse to the song we wanted to capture. We wanted to see images of different kinds of people coming to life through music and the company of their friends and surroundings.”
The video, directed by Matt Barnes, is a delightful array of bomber jackets and eruptions of dance in nostalgic diners, dimly lit pool halls, and factories. It’s a testament to the power of music to bring people of all walks of life together, and it has a damn good time along the way.
The song– set to release next week as a key theme for the NHL Stanley Cup Finals– is the first single from the band’s currently unannounced fifth album, due out sometime later this year.