Welcome to a world of lies, lust and death. Welcome to a world where talent gets you only so far, and your own natural greed will get you much further. Ladies and gentlemen; Welcome to Wonderland.
Yes, Forgive Durden's debut album is very abitious, something that matches the theme of this record very well. While many up and coming bands have released their own debut albums with very common themes within songs, sugar-coated in snappy one-liners and metaphors fit for a 90's sitcom, the foursome from Seattle (The same city as similar-sounding veterans Gatsby's American Dream) have gone for a daring concept album based around the life of a man trapped in the business world of the 21st century, struggling to deal with how work is handled under the table and temptations of the career he has ended up in. But Forgive Durden's impressive fanbase for another Purevolume band hasn't just come from their smart and innovative writing, but much more from their ability to truely mix up styles and musicianship in their songs. The switch from the pulsing bassline and over-distorted and energetic opener "Ants" to a much slower yet equally powerful "Ear To Ear", which makes great use of a horn-section and tempo change, is impressive for 3 songs. There are a true variety of instruments included on this album; bongos, keyboards, banjos, horns, mandalins. You name it, Forgive Durden have probably used it.
It's not just this though, but it's the way they can make these instruments unique. "Il Tango Della Signora Francesco di Bartolommeo di Zanobi del Giocondo" is one of my favourite tracks on this album, because of it's flamenco-tango hybrid with their dark guitar sounds and the way you never know what's coming next. This band rarely uses power chord melodies like many do today, and prefer to mix up chords with sharp and quick attacks of high-pitched licks. For a band signed to Fueled By Ramen, notorious for jumping on trends and signing very basic groups, Forgive Durden certainly do stand out. There are many similarities to bands in the current scene at the moment. Gatsby's American Dream, Boys Night Out, Circa Survive and even Brand New all feel like they could have leant a helping hand on this album. As well as the louder and much more pop-punk based songs, there's a lot of balladesque and acoustic style as well. "Parable Of The Sower" beings with clean guitar chords and quickly gets into a song laced with a picked banjo, rolling snare drums and those guitar chords again. Only it doesn't stop there. With little over a minute to go of the same song, it builds up into a hastey swinging anthem for dance clubs, only to fall back into a much, much slower gang cheer of happy voices and quiet backing music.
It does have it's setbacks, but they are very limited thanks to the album's diversity in styles and use of instruments. The lyrics aren't as memorable as pioneers Gatsby's American Dream, but do hold a sense of intelligence within them. It does take a few listens to dig deep and find out what the story of this album really is, and yet more to understand the characters. As well as that, some slower songs are placed in weird places for the average listener, and although they are fitting to the concept of the album, it can make it hard to listen to this as background music. This album requires the listener to focus if they want to get the most out of Wonderland
. That's not without saying that you can just throw this on if you are in the mood for some great and quite original pop-punk (I use that term lightly, since this album shows a range of genre styles. It just centres around a pop-punk band). As well as this, the end of the album dies out very fast and is hard to listen to after such chirpy and energetic tracks like "The Great Affair Is To Move" and "For A Dreamer, Night's The Only Time Of Day".
This truely is one of the best albums of the year for me. The lengths Forgive Durden have goen with their storytelling is massive, and almost makes me jealous that I couldn't come up with something similar. The themes of songs aren't too poppy for today's standards, but include enough to gain new listener's recognition, and the styles on this album are just beautifully crafted. Wonderland
is in a league of it's own as far as albums fo this year, and I'm sure within years Forgive Durden will improve on this. It sounds very clear and nicely produced, and the structure of songs is great as well. Do yourself a favour and listen to this band. You are missing out if you don't.
"Beware The Jubjub Bird And Shun The Fumious Bandersnatch"
"Parable Of The Sower"
"Il Tango Della Signora Frencesco di Bartolommeo di Zanobi del Giocono"
[url]http://www.myspace.com/forgivedurden[/url] (Tracks from review: "Il Tango Delia...", "Beware The Jubjub Bird...")