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“No Sleep” by Arm’s Length: Rage, Frustration and Redemption

ALEN

Arm’s Length has only been a proper band for about two years now, but you might not have been able to tell from the emotional punch their latest EP packs. Everything Nice follows the Ontario band’s 2019 release, What’s Mine Is Yours, and the musical and emotional growth is on display.

Everything Nice is the aftermath of battling mental illnesses for many years,” the band says. “It’s about family dynamics that may have had a part in shaping the way you behave in relationships. It’s about forgetting everything as a means of coping. It’s about coming to terms with looking back in anger.” This theme of being OK with anger might seem backwards to some listeners, but Arm’s Length offers a convincing argument of its validity.

“No Sleep,” the second track off Everything Nice, starts out as a mellow-sounding indie rock jaunt. “Pushed away with all your might / Is it bad / If you want them back?” lead vocalist Allen Steinberg wonders, following a great intro of entangled guitars. “So you relied on hindsight / You had it all / But it’s all you had / Dig yourself deeper like a lie / I’m moving slow / I’m fast asleep.” As the lyrical picture of the song comes closer into view, what started as more mellow edges into hardcore emo territory. “And you couldn’t put it better without holding your tongue / I just say I can’t remember because I don’t like who I was,” Steinberg cries, before unleashing a full-on scream cushioned by deliciously wailing guitars: “So you’ve settled on sleeping forever / mark my height with pen and measure / An older soul, was weary in my youth / No daylight to waste / No sleep left to lose.”

But there’s a calm after the storm. One by one, each piece of the band drops out until it’s just Steinberg and a guitar in the bridge. “I haven’t felt right in such a long time,” he admits. “There’s no sleep left to lose / Just fucking static all the time.” By the song’s end, you may feel like you’ve weathered the storm, but ultimately you’re stronger for it.

Arm’s Length has said that Everything Nice finally feels like a representation of the music that they want to make as a group. Listening to “No Sleep,” it’s undeniable that the band has the musical and emotional chops to get it done, from the excellent production (done by Anton DeLost) to the stirring, never static arrangements that keep you sitting on the edge of your seat. “No Sleep” seems to encapsulate the sentiment of the EP as a whole, a testament to the power of cathartic emotion in overcoming mental struggles.

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