Wednesday 5 October 2011

Album Review: Forest Fire - Staring At The X

If you can cast your memory all the way back to 2008, you may remember a brief time when, following in the footsteps of Radiohead's In Rainbows, bands were desperately handing away their music for nothing.

Forest Fire were one of these bands, giving away their debut album Survival for the low, low price of zero pounds - but with a refreshingly sleepy pace, it stood out among the crowd as a gem of a record.

Three years on, normality has been restored and most bands are charging for their music again. But three years is a long time between albums - could Forest Fire manage to maintain their distinctive sound after such a long gap?

The first three songs of Staring At The X don't inspire much confidence. Compared to the debut, they open with a bigger and more commercial sound - great songs, true, but far from the chilled-out beats of Survival. Perhaps they're just there to grab the listener's initial attention - because with these out the way, the album becomes considerably more ambitious.

‘They Prey Execution Style’ combines buzzing synths with funky guitars to spooky effect. And in 'Blank Appeal' and title track 'Staring At The X', the beat slows to Survival's sleepy, swaggering pace, albeit with distorted guitars and drum machines. Surely the crowning glory of the album is eight minute-long 'Visions In Plastic', a mediative beauty that closes the record in trademark Forest Fire style.

They may be marketed as folk music, but Forest Fire are shamelessly urban; there’s no rural idyll present here. Regardless, Staring At The X is an album that manages to have its cake and eat it - effortlessly expanding on the sounds of their earlier work without sacrificing the band's identity. It's been a long wait, but it's been worth it; this is an album that deserves all the fans it can find.

Staring At The X won't be released until 17th October, but they're taking pre-orders over at FatCat's website now.


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  2. 'Future Shadows' is an amazing track. I was able to listen to it just last week and I can't stop listening since then.

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