Forth Wanderers – ‘Forth Wanderers’ Review

Score

A weighty rock record full of wisdom and heart

Pen pals are going out of fashion. In the age of social media, WhatsApp and the like, the thought of crafting a long thoughtful message – one that only your closest confidant will read – sounds archaic, really. But not for Forth Wanderers. The making of the New Jersey band’s second album, their first on cult indie label Sub Pop, was crafted via meticulous communications between lead singer Ava Trilling and guitarist Ben Guterl – who actually lived in the same zip code at the time. The pair would send melodies and lyrics back and forth, each adding their piece before the song was in decent-enough shape to demo with the rest of the band. Sure, they probably used the internet, but the result is like listening to the secret correspondence between close friends.

Each song opens a familiar dialogue. First, there’ll be a mighty rock riff. Soon Trilling replies with a languishing melody or two, and the song’s climax comprises an often gut-wrenching, occasionally optimistic chorus. This formula is repeated again and again, but never gets boring. In fact, these might be some of the most well-crafted rock songs you’ll hear all year long.

Trilling’s lyrics are the glue that holds together this powerful but vulnerable album. Opener ‘Nevermine’ has all the self-pity and self-confidence of ‘Is This It?’-era Strokes, and on ‘Not For Me’, swelling instrumentation meets a killer line that effortlessly pulls into focus all your teenage angst: “I can’t feel the earth beneath my feet/Flowers bloom but not for me”. Then there’s ‘Taste’, which has all the racket of ’13’-era Blur, mixing love with humour via self-deprecating and startlingly honest lyrics: “He says he likes my taste/But I bite his tongue, you know, just in case he starts to fall in love”.  

Details

Release Date: April 27, 2018
Record Label: Sub Pop