Review Summary: Leaving most the gothic moods of Wings of Joy behind, Cranes create a brighter, cleaner and more consistent album with Forever.
Cranes are a difficult band to describe and do not reside under a specific genre of music. With their first release, Fuse
, and later, Self-Non-Self
, the band could have been labeled as industrial with angry drums and distorted electronics. Later, on Wings of Joy
, the band embraced gothic rock and focused more on mood and atmosphere. Here, Cranes support a brighter and cleaner production; letting dream pop, shoegaze and even indie rock into the mix. Later in their career, Cranes even got rid of their rock sound and went for something completely electronic. Yet, no matter the genre Cranes are being labeled as, two things can be expected: ethereal, almost minimal melodies, and a focus on Alison Shaw’s sweet, child-like voice.
Despite originating at the same time as many other shoegaze originals like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, Cranes never received much more than a small cult status. One very important fan by the name of Robert Smith, fell in love with the band’s dark style of shoegaze and had Cranes open up for the Cure in 1992. After this tour, the Cranes had reached their peak in popularity, during which they released Forever
. This album is considered to be the second of three masterpieces by the band.
The previous album, Wings of Joy
, had one strong characteristic: it was extremely eerie. Forever
leaves out much of the darkness found on Wings of Joy
, but the sound is, unmistakably, still Cranes. Wings of Joy
was music for the night, while Forever
has mood more appropriate for watching the sun rise early in the morning. The album is introduced with a series of hypnotizing acoustic guitar chords on Everywhere
. On this gem of a track, we get the first taste of Allison Shaw’s improved vocals. Her childlike vocals do take awhile to get accustomed to, but they have a distinct fragile beauty to them.
shows Cranes’ most consistent songwriting. The band never fails to make each song hypnotizing and engaging. The songs never stray from a few chords or a simple piano pattern, but the album has a surprising amount of variety throughout. Songs like Cloudless
, And Ever
and Far Away
show the band taking an extremely minimalist approach to their songwriting with sometimes nothing more than a piano accompanying Allison’s voice. The songs Adrift
are surprisingly heavy post-punk rockers, and the single, Jewel
, is one of the brightest and most colorful songs that Cranes have ever produced. The album ends with the ghostly track Golden
and the track Rainbows
, a stripped-back, minimalist version of opening track. This haunting reprise of Everywhere
is a perfect ending to a beautiful album.
Cranes never received the attention they deserved, but they did gather a dedicated fanbase through their unique and well made music. Forever
is an album recommended to people who like the shoegaze classics by bands such as Slowdive, and My Bloody Valentine, and gothic bands such as The Cure or Siouxsie and the Banshees. Cranes are also recommended if you enjoy the new wave of female-fronted electronic bands like Grimes or Chvrches who share similar vocal delivery and dreamy mood. Forever by Cranes is a lost treasure of early 90’s dream pop, delivering unique and mesmerizingly beautiful music.