Review Summary: All I really need are two notes and a beat.
There’s no doubt that The Lonely Forest has always been an ambitious bunch. Their two previous albums, while rather lengthy, were fairly good concept albums. With their third album, John Van Deusen and crew display more of the guitar work and indie rock influence that had been missing from their previous works. Arrows
is an eclectic mix of indie rock and pop, just enough of both to please each side of the listeners. While it’s not exactly a concept album of traditional standards, the lyrics read almost as if they are each a separate note from one person to another. Not linked to each other, lead singer John does a great job writing simple, yet momentous lyrics to accompany the music they are paired with.
itself doesn’t try as hard as its predecessors, and in the process it makes for a simpler, more coherent album. The album is more guitar driven, whereas previous albums were piano led, transitioning Forest’s sound more into a melodic indie rock courtesy to John’s sugary vocals. There’s no doubt that John Van Deusen sounds like Justin Pierre, but in certain songs, when using a lower voice he then sounds nothing like him. The key signature of this album and Forest’s sound as a whole is the catchy vocals layered in with the bouncy guitars. Most notably in the second song, “Turn Off This Song and Go Outside”, where Van Deusen’s vocals are met with a memorable chorus and the consistent pop-punk like riffs that are ever present throughout the album. To a certain point The Lonely Forest’s lyrics can be viewed as repetitive, or lacking of variation in certain songs. “(I Am) The Love Addict” is one of the albums catchier songs, but tends to repeat itself over and over again. It’s not that it’s a bad song; it’s just that with limited verses it won’t hold much replay value for many listeners.
The centerpiece and best song to the album can be found with “Coyote”. With more of a slow pace and lower vocals than most of the songs here, it is from beginning to end one of the best produced songs on the album. From the start it takes more of a melodic influence and finishes with chord heavy riffs that are more present towards the end of the album. The putty that brings this album together so well is the mix of indie rock and pop influence. Not to say that hasn’t been done a million times, but with the unique voice of Van Deusen, it’s pulled off with ease. “Tunnels” brings more of that high pitched voice back into the mix with more upbeat riffs that almost launch them into that pop-punk realm for a second. Van Deusen would have the perfect voice for it, but with the plethora of melodic, piano led tracks they play they would be a bit out of place. The last half of the album is no different than the first. “Two Notes And A Beat” is the upbeat counterpart to “Coyote”, while “End It Now!” is a song filled with tiny dissonant screams and more riffs than most of the album itself. The album closer, “Arrows” is a piano heavy track, that while is less upbeat than most of the songs here, is most pleasing to the ears because it’s a reminder of past times when the band more prominently used the keyboards.
After three albums and two EP’s, The Lonely Forest should start to feel like a well established band, but realistically their just getting their start. Touring with the likes of Two Door Cinema and The Joy Formidable, Forest is finally starting to gain a fanbase and catch on outside Washington. Arrows
might be their third album in almost six years, but for them it’s the turning point in which they gain the recognition they have been seeking for all this time.