Monday, January 26, 2015

Forth Wanderers : Debut "Tough Love" Is Easy to Fall In Love With

"Tough Love" the debut full length album from Montclair, New Jersey's Forth Wanderers is a delicious record. When you listen to a lot of new indie music like I do, it is easy to not only become jaded but also to become really hungry for some sonic fulfillment that makes your creative soul feel satiated. Ben Guteri's guitar progressions (with those great vacant style picking that rely as much on the space between the notes than the notes themselves) are so rock lush and thick while still full of great nuanced playing. The progressions contain those half step surprises too which lends itself to Ava Trilling's lovely vocal melodies and lyrics that sometimes explore the caustic or sad parts of relationships. Trilling's voice navigates the songs with a kind of sad tone underneath. Her vocal style / delivery is sometimes tinged (and sometimes drenched) in an almost monotone styled apathy which only amps up the ennui. In this way, I thought a bit of Alice Costelloe but Forth Wanderers is no Big Deal. Guteri's music filled to the brim with tasty bass bottom fills courtesy of Noah Schifrin, Duke Greene's skilled guitar work and Zach Lorelli's excellent drum take. The musicality here is really dense with every stair stepping guitar lick twisting into a double time thing or sudden break only to have the songs flirt with different time signatures. This wonderful dynamism is wonderfully rendered in the title track "Tough Love".

Trilling's sad vocal delivery and melodies that can push phrases out is the perfect contraposition for all the musical plushness. Even on a song like Sleeper that has a more mellow feel and falls way to only 2 or 3 elements at a time in spots get really dense. The guitars work beautifully off each other, one pearly and spot on and the other straining into this lovely dissonance all supporting equally wonderful vocals. Selfish takes harmonics and falling thick bass lines into this dreamy tight fisted declaration song and Trilling's vocals shine once more.

Song's like Painting of Blue and Come Clean in some indefinable way feel like they have sprung from grungey rock remnants. Dinosaur Jr and Speedy Ortiz flashed in my mind. Blondes Have More Fun chases itself. It is a very cool jammy track that gives away to an almost Cranberries-esque soar. In the track Fuck, Trilling vacillates between clear defiance in her voice to an "oh well" acceptance while the song kind of shuffles merrily along.

"Tough Love" is an easy album to fall in love with. Strong emotional songs with proggy post rock tendencies, airy melodies and dynamics galore makes for a tightly wrapped indie rock package topped off with a small nihilistic punk bow. New Jersey has always been a fertile breeding ground for diverse music and Forth Wanderers may be it's latest great spawn.
Robb Donker

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