Vancouver man-about-town Jay Arner has all of the makings of a slacker-pop savant — the breezy approach to songwriting, the laid-back production, the shaggy hair — but he’s the furthest thing from a burnout. Aside from his time in notable bands like International Falls, The Poison Dart, Fine Mist and Bleating Hearts, Arner has slowly but surely been laying the foundations for a solid solo career.
The latest on that trajectory is the double A-side 7-inch featuring the tracks “Bad Friend” and “Black Horse.” In an email, Arner told me “It’s sort of fake punk in an obviously totally not punk way,” and that’s a perfect way to describe “Bad Friend.” Clocking in at a minute and a-half, the bullshit-free track is built on fuzzed-out guitars and busy drums, with enough harmony and melody to keep it from getting aggressive in any way. Basically, it sounds like a younger Sloan (fun fact: Arner collaborated with Sloan’s Jay Ferguson on a 2009 EP).
The flip side sees our hero and his band getting contemplative with some warbly synth and dreamy guitars on “Black Horse.” It’s a total departure from “Bad Friend,” but both songs are united in the fact that Arner’s such a fantastic songwriter.
This is a short and sweet 7-inch, to be sure, but there are enough hooks on here to keep you flipping it for a while. Then, hopefully, Arner will issue the top-notch full-length that he undoubtedly has in him.