I’ve been aware of ‘This Silent Forest’ for longer than I can remember. With each new release of their contemporaries’ albums I recall wondering if they will ever release theirs. Unlike almost every band I’ve been keeping tracking of, I’ve only heard snippets: an acoustic song here or there, a clip at the side of the road and one song (Milk) I do have in the music folder. From the first exposure I was expecting something special, something akin to the beauty of The State Broadcasters or pace of The French Wives.
To say I was caught by surprise as to what the debut ‘Indivision’ finally delivered would be an understatement. I’m listening now for the second time with my preconceptions put aside. The title track ‘We Are We Were’ uses the first 2 minutes of an 8 minute song to good effect setting the tone of what promises to be a serious and heartfelt offering. Quickbeam without strings comes to mind just as the last 2 minutes switch to a, by now very familiar, post rock squall.
The aptly named next track ‘Give me answer’ makes it readily apparent that this is shaping up to be a guitar driven album with just enough restraint and an acute awareness of space to make an unique imprint.
I find it amusing that as much as I’m enjoying the third track ‘Drowning Man’ (and for all the right reasons) I winced with the lyric of a “Blackened Sky”. Isn’t that sacrosanct Clyro territory now? The actual point being that the band seems to have purposefully ventured straight into an area already claimed by countless other bands. What I’m most impressed with is how effortless and unself-conscious it seems. There is no contrivance or gimmick to set themselves apart; just satisfying layered hook laden melodic rock.
I’ve been reading Galloway’s story of Fife and I was intrigued how the ‘Scottish voice’ was very much not in vogue until recently. Hopefully this isn’t something that will revert back. It is especially prominent with the track ‘Get in Line’ where the vocals are bumped in the mix and buoyed with a bit of chanting and strings. Again, I’m struck by how internally varied each song is and how cohesive the resulting mix is. The lengthy songs are interesting and engaging with just enough rousing bits thrown in to make even an old codger smile.
The 7th song ‘Root to Seed’, not unexpectedly, slows things down (for most of the song at least). I do have to confess for the first time that this is where my mind began to drift and the quiet to loud – which I increasingly and less affectionately call the Sigur Ros ending – reinforces my feeling that this is one that could have benefited from something a little more skewed or unexpected.
Those churlish thoughts are quickly dispelled with the next song where the acoustic guitar that I was expecting all along starts off ‘Model Couple’ very quickly reverting to the, by now, signature fullness of sound.
I have to admit that I didn’t listen to the closing track ‘Winter’ on the first listen. I’ve developed these ridiculously high expectations of what the song in that position should do. So far so good – it is not a mirror of anything that had come before. I was just about to type ‘plodding’ but the last two minutes have turned things around and my faith is restored. What I wouldn’t give to have been able to have helmed the recording (in an advisory capacity mind you) of that one.
All in all – I’m unexpectedly surprised how good it was despite not at all being what I was expecting. It impressed me for what it was; winning me over as it were. And when I think about it – that really is the sign, for the overwhelming majority of it, of an exceptionally well crafted and executed album.
More Birthday Suit than Idlewild, but still uniquely its own, This Silent Forest has delivered a very noteworthy debut album.
This Silent Forest (bandcamp)
This Silent Forest (physical CD)