Forth Wanderers – Forth Wanderers (Album Review, Stream)
by Steven Spoerl
The last several days of this week brought noteworthy music videos from Sun June, Dead To Me, Acid Dad, IV League, Annie Hardy, Self Defense Family, Joan of Arc, and Brent Cobb. Additionally, that span of time saw the release of more than a dozen records worthy of highlights but that’s a subject for a later post. Here, the headline belongs squarely to Forth Wanderer’s astounding self-titled, which has the potential to catapult the band from a buzzy staple to much wider recognition.
Sub Pop signed the band for the release and less than halfway through the first listen, it’s hard not to imagine they won an aggressive bidding war to release Forth Wanderers because it’s an absolute behemoth of the record that finds the band in the sharpest form of a young but already impressive career. Virtually every track that came out in advance of this self-titled was featured on this site in some way and led to stratospheric expectation. Improbably, Forth Wanderers actually finds ways to surpass those expectations, resulting in a record that leans more closely to essential than merely exceptional.
Forth Wanderers’ compositions sound more inspired than ever — which is no small feat — and Amy Trilling ensure the lyricism takes that same step forward. A record that explores the various facets of uncertainty in every day modern life, the sentiments that riddle the record have taken on a considerable amount of weight in recent years. Questions are raised with frequency throughout Forth Wanderers but they come from a thoughtful perspective, weighing things like how far does one have to be pushed to stop being complacent (“New Face”) and how to navigate the spectrum of expectations (“Temporary”).
The record’s greatest trick might be its own assurance in the face of those questions, wondering aloud about their implications with the type of assurance in those pathways that makes the listener certain they’ll find the answers. Of course, those narrative moments are significantly elevated by some incredible, across-the-board instrumental performances. Everyone here seems to be embracing their voice with a newfound confidence, not just Trilling, and it’s exhilarating to hear it all unfolding.
Forth Wanderers aptly acts as its own summation in “Taste”, as Trilling exclaims “I’m the real deal”. After just one listen, it’d be hard to argue that sentiment but after multiple spins — where the record unveils a surprising amount of additional nuance embedded through its many layers — that statement becomes impossible to argue. In addition to being one of the genre’s best offerings in years, it stakes its claim as simply one of the best records of the past few years as well. Volatile, weighty, affecting, and unfailingly sincere, Forth Wanderers is nothing short of a modern classic that deserves a spot in any music lover’s collection.
Listen to Forth Wanderers below and pick it up from Sub Pop here.