Friday, October 26, 2007

#23: The Forms>The Forms>Follow Function

Artist : The Forms
Album : The Forms (2nd Domestic LP)
Release : 10.23.07
Year Founded : 2003
Label Name : Threespheres
Catalog # : 0115
Packaging Type : Single-Disc Digipak
Members : Brendan Kenny, Jackson Kenny, Alex Tween, Matt Walsh
Runtime : 29:44
Area Tour Dates : None at time of publication
Sound Season : Autumn, Winter
iTunes Worthy Tracks : Knowledge in Hand, Red Gun, Bones, Blue Whale
Sounds Like : Bats & Mice Believe it Mammals
Rating : B+

Truthfully, the only reason The Forms' new album stood out to me from amongst all the crap promos that come our way is because of the 'recorded by Steve Albini' note on the inside cover. Now, Mr. Albini is not infallible, and, last I heard, he still will record anyone's album provided they wait their turn. But, 75 percent of what he touches is typically worth seriously listening to. I also immediately noticed that Matt Talbott of Hum gets a credit as an 'additional engineer.' That sealed the deal.

Well, what really sealed the deal was playing the record. I was unable to have any preconceived notions about this band. Their name does not immediately give away their sound and, as I said, Steve Albini has worked with everyone from The Frames to Mindless Self Indulgence, so that isn't giving anything away. Neither does the nondescript album art or the label to which they belong. With nothing to go on, the vocals hit me first.

Alex Tween has a vocal sound similar to Aqueduct's David Terry. He sound like he might be your wiseass best friend who just started a band to prove that he could. More striking than that though is the way the vocals stick right to the guitar melody, or vice versa, which is a feat in itself considering "Knowledge in Hand"'s disjointed rhythm. Tween's desperate yell is a perfect counterpoint to the decorum of his casual, matter-of-factness.

Brendan Kenny plays guitar as if his hand is glued to the fretboard. Everything is a slide or a bend ("Blue Whale") or a Möbius strip ("Focus") and there are little or no moments without notes. And there is something distinctly 90's about this band. There is a simplicity and a naïve innocence about them that calls to mind that time when major labels were scrambling to sign bands even the underground hadn't heard of in hopes of finding the next Nirvana. They're catchy, but not poppy. They're a little dark, a little sinister, but not out to scare anyone. They sound like they have ideals.

The one thing missing from the album is variety. All the songs sound pretty similar. That phenomenon fades a bit as you listen and become more familiar, but it remains at least in part after repeated listening. The tone of the instruments never change. If the album were longer, it may have turned into a fatiguing listen, no matter how satisfying each song might have been on its own.

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