Descriptions of Brighton duo ARXX’s sound are understandably likely to focus on their angular riffs, robust drums and the obvious juxtaposition Hannah Pidduck and Clara Townsend pose to the roles women are expected to play in music. Their second EP ‘Wrong Girl, Honey’, however, proves that the duo are many-sided, rendering any such pigeonholing reductive.
Don’t get me wrong, the tightly-bound riffs, Pidduck’s distinctive growl, and Townsend’s barnstorming drums are still here, but there’s a newfound tenderness too. ‘Iron Lung’, for example, starts in typical ARXX style before halfway through, the track remodels itself entirely, the drums take on an explorative feel while the guitars become softer, more introspective. Pidduck falls in line with this more tender instrumentation, her vocals losing their tough outer shell to reveal a touching vulnerability. “I can barely speak / because your words are so sweet / don’t wanna love somebody new” she sings, perhaps anxious that a lover might lose interest in her.
‘Swallowed The Sun’ finds the duo in emo territory, the reverberating guitars and Pidduck’s elongated vocal drawing parallels with Great Grandpa’s recent record, while ‘The Storm’ is affixed with backing vocals you might expect to hear on a 60s soul song. On the piano version of the same track, which closes out the EP, Pidduck sings “I Wish I was more than this”. With ‘Wrong Girl, Honey’ ARXX prove they can’t be summed up in a radio-friendly soundbite, they’re too dense, too complete for that.