Review: The Lonely Forest – Arrows (2011)

The Lonely Forest is a band that is trying to defy their moniker and break out.  In the past year, they have played festivals and been featured on prominent tours (opening for Two Door Cinema Club comes to mind).  Adding to the hype is the fact that The Lonely Forest is the first signing to Chris Walla’s (of Death Cab for Cutie) new record label, and that they have an upcoming tour with Portugal. the Man with a radio single (“Turn Off this Song and Go Outside) and a fresh vinyl release to bring people out.  Does Arrows measure up? Almost.

Arrows’s diversity is simultaneously its blessing and its curse. Fortunately, the blessing outweighs the curse (as it should).  “Be Everything” kicks off, or rather gently embarks the record on its journey.  The title is almost ironic – the band seems like they want to be everything they can be on this record, and start by leading you to think they’re humble by putting the most low key track first.  It is actually kind of a clever move.  Be prepared for a slew of artist-name dropping the rest of the review, though.

[youtube url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0fxCs7sMTs]

The current single, “Turn Off this Song and Go Outside” (sometimes denoted as simply “Turn Off This Song”) gets things revved up, but fortunately (unfortunately?) the single is not the most memorable song from the record.  If you’re confused by the parentheses, it is because a generic single might deceive fans about the band’s potential.  At times, whiny vocals are a bit more prominent than they should be (see “End is Now”), though not necessarily the fault of the vocalist, but possibly a production issue.

“(I am) The Love Addict” and “(I am) The Love Skeptic” create an interesting contrast, with the latter containing percussion reminiscent of Phoenix, but becoming the backdrop in an otherwise wistful atmosphere. “Woe Is Me, I’m Ruined” continues the thought-provoking theme with a feeling way more cheerful that one would expect.  Maybe irony is something the band is shooting for.  “Tunnels” begins with a surreal dissonant sounding keyboard before shifting to a more normal sounding tune (albeit still making use of irregular time signatures).  At one point, the tempo and feel completely changed at which point I had to double check my iTunes to make sure it was still the same song.  “(I Don’t Want To) Live There” brings to mind Collective Soul‘s “December” in the beginning, but towards the end overindulges the vocals with plenty of “ay-hey”s.

The band finds success the most in the songs “Coyote” and the epic closer “Arrows Out.”  One just cannot help but enjoy “Coyote”, and likewise I was intrigued by the Civil Twilight feel in the closer.  They were perhaps a bit indulgent with the repeating refrains at the end but overall I found the track enjoyable.  All in all, The Lonely Forest clearly has talent and songwriting ability.  I will continue to spin this record, no doubt but they should take advantage of the less is more mentality more often.  I am optimistic that they will avoid the “sophomore slump” by latching onto their identity a bit more firmly.

The Lonely Forest
Official | Facebook

Rating: 5.8/10
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