The fact that the main force behind Rhode Island’s Get Him Eat Him is Pitchfork writer Matt LeMay will mean some people aren’t going to give the band a chance. Which is a shame, because repeated listens to Get Him Eat Him’s sophomore album, Arms Down, reveal LeMay as a songwriter who is more than the sum of the influences of the bands he loves.
Most of those bands come out of the ’90s D.C. scene. (Think Dismemberment Plan, especially. Jason Cadell, formerly of that band, produced Arms Down.) LeMay writes the type of lyrics that could equally be about the shitty state of political affairs or about the sometimes war-like nature of romantic relationships. Check the album’s title or song names such as “Push and Pull,” “Leaders in Doubt,” and “Patronage.”
A big boost to the album comes from some nicely culled guests. Beirut’s Zach Condon helps set Arms Down off in fine style with his joyous trumpet work on “2×2.” Other guests include Wrens guitarist Charles Bissell and Broken Social Scene keyboardist Chris Brown.
If there’s a tack to take against LeMay, it’s that his voice sometimes falls on the wrong side of the thin divide between impassioned pleading and outright whining. On “Exposure,” LeMay says he’s dealing with the stresses of touring by “taking it out on his ribcage,” whatever that means. And the album ends on a low note with the gross, creepy sexuality of “Murphy Bed.” Sample: “I’m under your body/ You separate softly/ I want you to stop me.” But those missteps don’t completely keep LeMay from doing a little to help disprove the myth that those who can’t make music write about it instead.