A few months back, as a trailer for their self titled LP, the A-Forest sent out a free track ‘Polar White’ that you may well have seen on other blogs.
I did give it a listen but, I confess, on one play it kind of washed over me. Registering at little over 0 on the Manic scale, it didn’t sound like my thing.
Nevertheless, having met Michael from the band, I felt it would be polite to give a couple of tracks from the LP a listen when it was released a few weeks back. And I’m very glad I did.
Picking two tracks at random I went for the slightly bizarrely but brilliantly titled ‘In Aid of the Retired Greyhound’ and LP closer ‘Heavy Metal Football’.
By chance I’d stumbled upon two of the best songs on the record. Both these songs are simply sublime, from the intricate, intoxicating melodies of ‘Retired Greyhound’ to the slow burn of ‘Heavy Metal Football’, which recalls none other than Eagleowl.
‘I Take It Dancing’ and ‘Uda Yagi’ are just as good and showcase a more up tempo side to the record with the former the closest thing to a pop song on the record. The latter has a nice change of pace half way through and is probably the song that generated the Life Without Buildings comparison.
Unfortunately, although I do appreciate ‘Polar White’ itself much more now than I did on first listen, some of the rest of the record still washes over me.
Both ‘Out of the Rain’ and ‘Hope’ are little more than pleasant background music for me. Which is slightly frustrating since ‘Home’ which immediately follows and almost seems to be a continuation of the previous song, is much better, lifted as it is by some nice cello.
A gentle, slightly more acoustic Cocteau Twins is perhaps the best reference point I could offer up (down to the fact that some of the songs appear to be sung in Lizfraserese) although ‘The A-Forest’ has contemporaries too in the likes of Conquering Animal Sound. Not forgetting the gentle lush sound of Esperi of course which isn’t at all surprising since Chris Lee-Marr is also involved in the A-Forest.
So all in all ‘The A-Forest’ turns out to be something of a pleasant surprise, perhaps indicating that this old dog can still learn new tricks.