Published Apr 30, 2018For most their existence, five-piece Forth Wanderers have been scattered around the North-eastern United States attending various colleges, sharing and collaborating bits and pieces of songs via the internet. After gaining some blog buzz for their second EP, Slop, in 2016, the band are releasing their sophomore, self-titled full-length, and sound as polished and confident as ever despite the distance apart.
Originating from a high school in Montclair, NJ, Forth Wanderers are built on warm and weathered guitar hooks complementing vocalist Ava Trilling's dreamy and apprehensive voice, which is drenched in suburban ennui and hazy sweetness. Trilling's anxious thoughts on heartbreak and growing into adulthood are the focus of Forth Wanderers discoloured sound. The shy angst on the opening line, "I am the one you think of when you're with her," on standout "Nevermine" sets up the album as a vehicle for Trilling's sweet'n'sour romanticism alongside main songwriter Ben Guterl's skittish and weaving guitars, balancing Trilling's vulnerability with malleable instrumentation that bends and shifts under each drawn-out, lethargic syllable.
The band's jittery melodies are subtle and constantly shifting, never quite settling into predictability or a common riff. On "Taste," the sticky, mildew-stained guitars create a calculated sprawl where Trilling spills out her words about grappling with adolescent love, or at least questioning if she's really felt it. The trials of self-discovery continue on "New Face," one of the album's grungier moments.
Trilling's vocal delivery is of cool restraint and not about cleansing release — instead of yelling words like, "I can't feel the earth beneath my feet, flowers bloom but not for me," on "Not For Me," she sings it in an inquisitive calming tone, pulling the listener in with her monotonic nuance. It's easy to picture Forth Wanderers as another cut-and-paste emo-inspired indie rock group, but it's Trilling's stony composure that makes the band something special. The nervous, blemished energy of Forth Wanderers is gripping with heaping amounts of charm, bitterness, sarcasm, and unease in the right proportions, making our insecurities stare back at us. (Sub Pop)