The Forms are a New York City band that, for
some reason sent us a promo. Brendan assigned this one to me,
and here are my thoughts on it.
Despite being from New York City, The Forms are neither a Garage
Rock Revivalist Act nor a White Boy Rap Act. They are from the
Interpol side of things: vaguely new wavey post punk type of
stuff. Icarus is their debut disc, and their label
(Three Spheres) really invested some money in the band by hiring
a Big Name Producer, none other than your hero and mine, Mr.
Three Sphere seem very proud of this fact. It is mentioned
over and over again on the press sheet i got. In fact, The Forms
recently played The Echo, and the signs posted in the club before
the show pointed out that their album was produced by Steve
Albini. I found that very odd in a "who cares" sort of way.
I mean, it's not like Albini was going to be there to run sound
at the show....
However, it was a good choice, for Albini turned in yet another
fine production job. The drumming is clear and crisp, and each
instrument is masterfully recorded. You can really hear the
complexity of the bass parts, and the way the light drumming
counterbalances the pianowork. Wonderfully done.
Of course, it helps that Albini had some good source material.
The Forms obviously know their stuff and they seem to play well
together. This is well crafted and complex pop music. There
is a certain "mathiness" to their overall sound, perhaps caused
by the complexity of the bass riffs that are played. They don't
really go too crazy with strange time signatures, but this isn't
straight up rock either. A good balance.
For the most part, Icarus blends together in
one seamless whole. There are 10 tracks for a total of 18:19,
but i really only count 7 songs. Each of the first three songs
seems to be split into two tracks for no readily apparent reason.
Mostly, The Forms music is that of your typical indie guitar
band. Guitar melodies meander and the vocalist (and there are
2 members credited with singing, although i really couldn't
tell any difference in voice) screams/yells/croons subdued words
about ... well, i can't actually understand what he is saying
(or at least, i have yet to exert the effort to understand the
words through the affectation of the singing style). The rhythm
section is powerful. Drums are understated yet forceful, and
bass does more than a simple thump-thump rhythm. All of the
elements work very well together.
There are 3 standout tracks that i notice when i listen to
the album, not that the rest of it is bad, but rather that it
does sort of blend into background noise. The first track i
notice is the fifth track, which is the first movement (of 2)
of the song Sunday. This tune features a happy enough
little melody and plods along guided by a very nice bass riff.
It's catchy and mid-paced. Seagull is a similar song,
slightly faster paced, that again features great bass work,
here accompanied by some crunchy power chording. And then there
is Stravinsky, which is different in that it involves
a lead piano melody. The drumming here is wonderful, and the
bass and guitar dance around the piano melody to great effect.
So there is some good stuff on Icarus. And yet.....
And yet there is a certain sameness to Icarus,
which refers back to the comment i made about "background
music" up above. Yes, this is well done music, but every
time i put the disc in it is over before i can really nail down
a great song. Sure, there are 7 discreet songs, with silence
between them if you listen hard, but they blend into one extended
piece. I guess my point here is this: if i were making a mix
for a friend, i probably would not put a song from Icarus
on it, because i think that the music would lose something when
stripped of the overall context of the album. Which is saying
something, i suppose, but i am not sure exactly what.
Anyway, i find this to be a very pleasant listen. It is shows
much potential on the band's part. Overall, this is a promising
debut by an indie rock band to watch.