This isn’t the Russia of Roman Abramovich and internet hookers. This is the Russia of Sputniks, space dogs and Cold War paranoia. And freezing winters.
It takes bravery to create something that doesn’t go out of its way to flatter and preen the listener. ‘Give Me A Wall’ doesn’t want to be your best mate. It wants to check you out, test what you’re made of. You find that in Tom’s histrionic yelping; in the drums that want to detach themselves from the melody and roll right out of your speakers into your bedroom and in songs that have numbers for names. And not necessarily in the right order. Single ‘Twelve’ preceeds ‘Fifteen (Part 1)’, which is followed by new single ‘Nine’.
Like a peculiarly English take on emo, ¡Forward, Russia! charter a pedalo into the waters of despair. When Tom and Katie share vocals on ‘Sixteen’ (the eighth track – you’re getting it now) they take us from fragile self-doubt to an internship in the boot camp of death metal. Barked numbers batter the listener into submission. It’s epic stuff. Widescreen entertainment for the back of your eyelids.
¡Forward, Russia! dare to delve deeper than their art rock contemporaries. Pretentious? Probably. But if it weren’t for a bit of a pretension we’d have no heroes.