In 2020, Forests found themselves embroidered into an international emo tapestry when they opened Vulture’s list of the 100 greatest emo songs of all time. Though they came in dead last, they had their place cemented among the likes of American Football and Sunny Day Real Estate – important recognition for the Singaporean trio’s unique take on the genre in their marriage of complex progressive rock rhythms with punk melodies and sarcastic wordplay.
Perhaps that laurel has imbued the band with more confidence. ‘Get In Losers, We’re Going To Eternal Damnation’, their third record and follow-up to 2019’s ‘Spending Eternity In A Japanese Convenience Store’, doesn’t necessarily evolve the band’s sound, but it showcases them in their most assured form.
There are moments on this new album where it feels like Darell Laser (bass, vocals), Niki Koh (drums) and newest member Daniel Lim (guitars, vocals) are each pulling away frantically in opposite directions. They create a sonic chaos that dances dangerously close to collapse, held back by a patchwork of catchy melodies and a adherence – sort of – to the guiding tempo of each song.
This aligns with the persona Forests love to embrace: the perennial awkward outsider whose worst nightmare is becoming a parody of themselves. They avoid this by never letting any idea reappear often enough to congeal, each part moving from one section to the next at blink-and-you’ll-miss-it speed. This hurried approach matches the catharsis their music seems to invite, Laser and Lim often screaming each syllable to within an inch of breathlessness. Opener ‘Fool of Hell’ embodies this perfectly. Kicking off with a math-rock intro built around a swirling riff, the song builds up into a rapid pop punk chorus of “Fool for you / Fool of hell” that you can practically hear fans scream in unison atshows.
The interplay between the band’s punk leanings and their willingness to indulge their muso instincts has always been what made Forests special. While their previous records have attempted to fuse these two impulses, ‘Get In Losers’ may be the record where they have finally perfected it. Tracks such as ‘Godspeedbaby!’ are a perfect marriage between furious hardcore rhythms and technically perfect breakdowns.
Kudos should be given to Lim for assimilating himself into a well-oiled machine, taking the place of founding guitarist Adam Jared Lee as Forests’ melodic fulcrum. Lim’s playing traverses some of the same tones Lee’s used to but with a more aggressive and frantic edge that is just perfect for these set of songs.
While Forests certainly do not shy away from singing about relationships, heartbreaks, and the usual themes of the genre, what they do well is explore them with fresh imagery. Take this line in ‘Jazz Ruined My Life’: “Wrestling with my thoughts / You’re a stone-cold stunner / One two three I’m out!” or this one in ‘Snowball’: “I cannot dream / I cannot sleep / I miss you by Blink-182.” These smart-alec quips across their records may seem gimmicky, but they do add to the band’s young and crispy energy.
There is a more muscular tone to ‘Get In Losers’, each beat and chord striking harder than on previous records. It almost feels like the band are now ready for their proper unveiling, to be seen in brighter light and with a clearer lens. This is Forests at their summit, ready to conquer the world.
- Release date: April 1
- Record label: Sweetness Follows/Dogknights