With Revolutionaries, You Won’t Is Just as Weird and Wonderful as Ever

The local duo refines its sound for a superb sophomore effort.

Photo by Toan Trinh

Photo by Toan Trinh

For a guy who says he only writes sad songs, why are Josh Arnoudse’s lyrics so damn catchy?

If his and Raky Sastri’s project You Won’t is anything, it’s delightfully paradoxical. It’s a folk band that plays electronic bagpipes. In an earnest, Dylanesque twang, Arnoudse laments the loss of childhood innocence and star-crossed love, then puts on powdered wig and prances around an abandoned warehouse. At a recent show in Boston, Arnoudse crooned Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love” into a distorted whirly tube, to the bemusement of those in attendance.

After nearly three years of nonstop touring, including a set at Boston Calling, You Won’t at last has a followup to its critically acclaimed 2012 EP, Skeptic Goodbye. Due out April 29 (Extraneous Music/Meddling Kids) Revolutionaries sounds more like the band’s off-kilter live performances—and that’s great news.

In the video for the album’s infectious first single, “Ya Ya Ya,” the band’s Penn and Teller-like personas are on display. Arnoudse, dressed as some twisted, Baroque ballerina, belts the song’s chorus into a rubber chicken, while Sastri, clad a purple Santa suit, solemnly strums his ukulele bass.

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“Part of that video was playing up, in an exaggerated, comical way, our respective roles in the band, whereas I’m the vampy, diva front-person, and Raky has to do all the actual work of playing the music,” Arnoudse laughs.

“I rarely do say anything in the show, just because I’m always like, ‘Shit, what’s next?'” Sastri says. “I go into this manic, panicked state for a set.”

Arnoudse and Sastri met in Lexington in 1999, as “unlikely fencing partners in a high school production of the Broadway flop ‘My Favorite Year.'” Their roots in the heart of the American Revolution served as inspiration for the album’s title, as well as the colonial garb on the cover.

“The idea of revolution kind of tied into a broader lyrical theme on the record about the conflict between idealism and pragmatism, specifically, being idealistic and thinking in black-and-white when you’re younger,” Arnoudse said. “For me, the first record was more about looking at childhood, where the new one is more about the end of—I mean, we’re both in our 30s now and confronting everything that comes with that.”

“So I feel like the new one is more about the changes in priorities and values and relationships that come with getting a little older.”

You Won’t will headline the Sinclair on May 6. Revolutionaries is due out April 29.