Record Review - 3 July 17 2002

From its cartoonish cover to the obvious, Who-like windmill of an opening, Arlo’s sophomore release, Stab the Unstoppable Hero, is an album for rock geeks, comic-book geeks, anybody who’s ever found joy in the simple things — like putting the needle on a record or plugging a guitar into an amp.

There’s nothing revolutionary about Stab. By the second song, “Working Title,” the Who have been replaced by an ascending Van Halen chorus. “Ooh, baby, baby. Won’tcha turn your head my way?” rings in your ears, even if the words are different. Sunny and swaggering, Arlo’s sound is no less arena-ready; their hormones flare as loudly as their hooks — which are of the sort passed from Cheap Trick and Big Star to the Posies and Sloan. Rousing minefields of crash cymbals, swelling harmonies and bouncing bass make for album highlights such as “Culture” and “Temperature.”

Compared to the thick, fuzzy chug of their more uniform but no less rambunctious debut, Up High in the Night, Stab is a work of dirty riff dynamics, most of them borrowed. Of course, most of us borrowed our older siblings’ Who and Van Halen records as well. Plug in those air guitars. Arlo plays The Earl Tues., July 23.??