The Forms self-titled follow-up to 2003’s Icarus, starts off with a shoegazer blast. The album opener, “Knowledge In Hand” is a refreshing noise considering the stale soundscapes of late. But by track two it becomes apparent that the Forms are a one-trick pony. Nirvana producer, Steve Albini’s work on the album is evident in the lush guitar sounds and well-mixed drums, but that can’t keep The Forms from sounding like one giant, mopey instrumental album. Sure, there are lyrics in every song, but vocalist, Alex Tween delivers them as if sporting a mouthful of marbles or Jolly Ranchers and the effect is like a new throat-powered instrument.
Now, this sounds like a bad review and it is not at all! The music is great and very much in the vein of what I would want to listen to while browsing used CDs at the record store, but if you could understand more than two words per verse it might have a stronger emotional impact. The shoegaze gets so thick at times that I’m afraid my nose would be scraping the ground if I were walking down the street with this playing on an iPod. “Blue Whale” offers up one of the most ingenious sounding guitar effects heard in recent years, it is reminiscent of a whale call as replicated by auto-detuning strings, which is apropos for the track.
If you like preliminary emo bands like Promise Ring, Slowdive and Yo La Tengo then you’re gonna love the Forms.
By Brian McKinney