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  The Forms  
  Three Spheres  
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The Forms are a New York City band that, for some reason sent us a promo. Brendan assigned this one to me, and here are my thoughts on it.

Despite being from New York City, The Forms are neither a Garage Rock Revivalist Act nor a White Boy Rap Act. They are from the Interpol side of things: vaguely new wavey post punk type of stuff. Icarus is their debut disc, and their label (Three Spheres) really invested some money in the band by hiring a Big Name Producer, none other than your hero and mine, Mr. Steve Albini.

Three Sphere seem very proud of this fact. It is mentioned over and over again on the press sheet i got. In fact, The Forms recently played The Echo, and the signs posted in the club before the show pointed out that their album was produced by Steve Albini. I found that very odd in a "who cares" sort of way. I mean, it's not like Albini was going to be there to run sound at the show....

However, it was a good choice, for Albini turned in yet another fine production job. The drumming is clear and crisp, and each instrument is masterfully recorded. You can really hear the complexity of the bass parts, and the way the light drumming counterbalances the pianowork. Wonderfully done.

Of course, it helps that Albini had some good source material. The Forms obviously know their stuff and they seem to play well together. This is well crafted and complex pop music. There is a certain "mathiness" to their overall sound, perhaps caused by the complexity of the bass riffs that are played. They don't really go too crazy with strange time signatures, but this isn't straight up rock either. A good balance.

For the most part, Icarus blends together in one seamless whole. There are 10 tracks for a total of 18:19, but i really only count 7 songs. Each of the first three songs seems to be split into two tracks for no readily apparent reason.

Mostly, The Forms music is that of your typical indie guitar band. Guitar melodies meander and the vocalist (and there are 2 members credited with singing, although i really couldn't tell any difference in voice) screams/yells/croons subdued words about ... well, i can't actually understand what he is saying (or at least, i have yet to exert the effort to understand the words through the affectation of the singing style). The rhythm section is powerful. Drums are understated yet forceful, and bass does more than a simple thump-thump rhythm. All of the elements work very well together.

There are 3 standout tracks that i notice when i listen to the album, not that the rest of it is bad, but rather that it does sort of blend into background noise. The first track i notice is the fifth track, which is the first movement (of 2) of the song Sunday. This tune features a happy enough little melody and plods along guided by a very nice bass riff. It's catchy and mid-paced. Seagull is a similar song, slightly faster paced, that again features great bass work, here accompanied by some crunchy power chording. And then there is Stravinsky, which is different in that it involves a lead piano melody. The drumming here is wonderful, and the bass and guitar dance around the piano melody to great effect.

So there is some good stuff on Icarus. And yet..... And yet there is a certain sameness to Icarus, which refers back to the comment i made about "background music" up above. Yes, this is well done music, but every time i put the disc in it is over before i can really nail down a great song. Sure, there are 7 discreet songs, with silence between them if you listen hard, but they blend into one extended piece. I guess my point here is this: if i were making a mix for a friend, i probably would not put a song from Icarus on it, because i think that the music would lose something when stripped of the overall context of the album. Which is saying something, i suppose, but i am not sure exactly what.

Anyway, i find this to be a very pleasant listen. It is shows much potential on the band's part. Overall, this is a promising debut by an indie rock band to watch.

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