The Lonely Forest’s Arrows is a powerful major debut for the band from Washington state and for Death Cab For Cutie frontman Chris Walla’s new label, Trans. The album kicks off with “Be Everything”, which although a successfully heartfelt song, starts things off on a note that is just a touch too whiny. But keep listening. Or “Turn off This Song and Go Outside” as you’ll be told on the second track in its catchy chorus. No, but seriously, keep listening. This is an enjoyable album through and through.
John Van Deusen’s minor vocals are reminiscent of R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe at times with a sort of lazy quality. However, Van Deusen doesn’t quite hit the whiny peaks of Stipe. Throw in a little taste of the Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz and update it to 2011 with Vampire Weekend style “oohs” and “ahhs” and you’ve got the Lonely Forest’s vocal sound. The band supplies catchy riff and choruses one after another, but perhaps the most attention-grabbing attribute after the vocals is the relentless drum beats, fast and full-bodied, which power every song.
Already with “Turn off This Song and Go Outside”, the guys set a motif for the rest of the album: the Lonely Forest, as its name might imply, pumps out sad songs about fallen love, but also pulls nature into the mix quite a bit. This refreshing quality, moving beyond the well-covered songwriting territory of joys and sorrows of the heart, is best displayed in the album’s second single, “We Sing in Time”, which pulls in a political message without being too overtly preachy. The more big-picture philosophical questioning in “End It Now!” is also a treat for a mind seeking stimulation to think of something other than love.
Overall, I’m happy these bites are spinning on my hard drives and echoing in my head.