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Forest Fire - Screens

Forest Fire - Screens

by , 26 August 2013

Forest Fire's debut album, 2008's unexpected sleeper hit Survival, wasn't always an easy listen, but if persevered with, revealed a goldmine of complex slow burners. Staring At The X followed, much in the same vein, yet shimmered brighter with ambition and explored an exhilarating expanse of musical landscape; it was laden with brilliant pop left bruised from the pavements of New York, sure, but we were made to work for it.

It was with unprecedented anticipation, then, that I (and the rest of the internet, you would hope) greeted the announcement of Screens. It is a relief to find that Forest Fire's third album resembles a band fully realising their potential and finally, awe-inspiringly, hitting their stride.

The opening tracks are difficult to fault; 'Waiting In The Night', previously previewed online last month, is the perfect opener, understated, yet boasts enough intrigue to tempt you into further listening (Mark Thresher's admission of "Sometimes I want to disappear so I can come back again" will have you quoting for days), 'Yellow Roses' is four delicious minutes of nostalgia-drenched, blissed-out gold, at odds with the woozy bassline of 'Monorail' that quickly follows. It's at the LP's midpoint that the band really start to cut loose, shoveling layer upon layer of warm synth onto Thresher's languorous drawl, most notably on the standout 'Cold Kind', a track that boasts a foreboding arrangement of electronics that wouldn't sound out of place on the stunning Drive soundtrack.

Eleven minutes in length and suitably epic, 'Annie' could be the most astonishing offering that we've heard from Forest Fire yet, zigzagging between jangly bubblegum and writhing psychedelica with remarkable ease. There's no grandstand finish, instead, Screens takes a brave step into more melancholic territory. 'Alone With The Wires' sees Thresher providing rasping vocals over a wistful church organ, whereas 'Never Far', the album's closer, stings long after its five minute running time, Thresher, his voice taut with sorrow, regretfully admitting that "You know better."

After promising so much with their initial releases, Forest Fire have delivered an album that is frequently beautiful, raw and poignant in equal measure. Let it deservedly rocket to the top of your end-year list and, believe me when I say, you're about to have a new favourite band.

Rating: 8/10

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