ALBUM REVIEW: Forest Fire – Screens

Screens artwork
Screens artwork

Screen Shot 2013-07-14 at 11.36.33 AM

ARTIST Forest Fire

ALBUM Screens

LABEL Fat Cat Records

RELEASE DATE 10 September 2013

8.4 | 10

If you remember the excellent “They Prey Execution Style” off of Forest Fire’s 2011 LP Staring At The X, you’d be well advised to strike that from your memory as Screens (2013) begins to play. With the new album, Forest Fire, whose members include Mark Thresher, Natalie Stormann, Robert Pounding, and Galen Bremer, have completely redesigned their image, and in the process have created one of the more appealing doses of synthpop this year.

Changes were afoot upon listening to the album’s prerelease single “Waiting In The Night,” which found the band happily occupying a space left unattended by MGMT. Filled with infectious synthesizers and an indelible melody, the song seemed to be Forest Fire’s announcement that Screens would be their attempt at a mainstream crossover. And while Screens does have its fair share of a memorable hooks, the band doesn’t jeopardize their artistic ambitions with their pop intentions. There are multiple musical passages that lend the album a surprisingly cohesive appearance, most notably the way “Cold Kind” subtly morphs into the instrumental “Fixation.”

While MGMT is the most immediate connection to be made to Forest Fire, other indie bands such as Real Estate and The War On Drugs offer up just as much in terms of a symbiotic musical relationship to Screens as anything from MGMT. It’s apparent from listening to the album that the members have a knack for finding the perfect melody for a given song. Such is the case on the closing “Never Far,” which sturdily drifts off on the strength of a gorgeous guitar melody before being swallowed by the static from all the screens which distract us.

Arguably the best moment of Screens is “Monorail,” a delicate lullaby that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Deerhunter/Atlas Sound album. Like the rest of the album, it’s a largely unassuming track, with no ulterior motives to its main goal of just sounding fucking beautiful. So no, there is nothing truly groundbreaking about Screens; but more importantly than that, it proves that sometimes it’s just as admirable to strengthen the roots from which you came.

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