Thursday, April 12, 2012

Album Review: Forrest - Before You Go

Album Rating: B
If it was not already wildly apparent, 90s emo revival is “in.”  Perhaps it was Title Fight’s exposure that triggered the formation of band after band that plays the same minor chords and croons in the same desperate manner about some life-ending tragedy.  That being said, this whole emo/punk revival is not so bad because the majority of the bands in the genre play from the heart.  South Wales newcomers, Forrest, are a prime example of the genre’s authenticity and demonstrate on Before You Go that a band does not have to reinvent the wheel to put out an enjoyable EP.

Before You Go is six tracks long, and clocks in at just under 15 minutes, giving the EP just enough time to leave an impact without exhausting the listener.  Hard-hitting and powerful instrumentals contrast with predominantly clean vocals, creating a familiar but effective combination that Basement used oh-so-well on their 2011 LP, I Wish I Could Stay Here.  The similarities between Forrest and their UK brethren are undeniable (though perhaps interpolated a bit given both band’s locations), but that does not mean Forrest should simply be written off as an imitation act. 

For one, the overall mix gives the band a more atmospheric quality, abandoning the blatancy of similar acts.  The big, yet resonant production on the vocals gives Mark Staddon’s voice a soaring effect, making it just as easy to get lost within the melodies as it is to sing along.  Obscured guitar lines intermingle to create a unique texture and “wall” of sound behind Staddon, and Jordan Dibble’s throbbing drum beats keep Forrest perfectly in sync.  As a whole, the EP is consistent – so much so that some listeners may chalk the evenness up to a lack of variety.

Undoubtedly, each of the six songs serves a purpose among the rest, but the lack of truly dynamic segments makes Before You Go easy to tune out at times.  Lyricism is very much par-for-the-course, and it would be great to see Forrest branch out thematically in the future, improving upon beaten lines such as, “Every time I try to call, you never pick up your phone.”  That being said, the band still manages to create an EP that successfully captures the biting chill of the fall and winter months, as well as the feelings of hopelessness that often accompany the cold weather.  “September,” does this especially well as Staddon denounces a former friend, exclaiming in a bitter tone, “Turn yourself around - this is my ground.”

Forrest prove on the EP that they need no more than one or two minutes per song to get a message across, and though short, the tracks never end abruptly.  Before You Go is well thought-out, and the band’s intentions are clear.  Now that they have an official release under their belt, the band has an opportunity to sculpt their sound into something truly innovative.

As of now, Forrest are almost there.  Attention-grabbing moments like the crunching guitar buildup at the end of “Forget” are the ones that turn heads and need to be utilized more frequently.  It has been said a million times before: “This band has potential” - and the statement holds true here.  In the future, Forrest may or may not realize their capabilities and improve upon their sound, but that doesn’t change the fact that Before You Go is still an excellent, attention-deserving rendition of 90s punk-infused emo.

Bandcamp (Free EP!)

1. Nothing More To Say
2. September
3. Hope
4. Five To Nine
5. Hearts And Minds
6. Forget

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