Keeley Forsyth
Debris


3.5
great

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
January 17th, 2020 | 16 replies


Release Date: 01/17/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An engrossing, depressive, and highly addicting mood piece that is guaranteed to carry you to dark places while forcing you to question your own sanity.

A strange fact about Debris is that it comes courtesy of a forty-one year old actress making her musical debut. Keeley Forsyth, who has appeared on Happy Valley, Heartbeat, and The Casual Vacancy, is far from a celebrity – but she’s spent the better part of twenty-five years in acting before turning her attention to this gloomy debut. The thematic content here is rooted in the stresses of domestic life, but Debris is not merely an account of those pressures – it’s an outlet for the toxicity and even violence that can brew under the surface of these settings. As you listen to Foryth’s eerie croons about going mad, or witnessing the angels of heaven mocking her, it becomes clear that this is no ordinary tale of homegrown depression.

Debris is a downright unsettling folk record. It’s drenched in melancholy, with Forsyth’s vocals comprised of a low-pitched vibrato that seems to echo its haunting surroundings. Her oft indecipherable delivery ranges from desolate murmurs to stream-of-consciousness rants as light hums/buzzes graze the soundscape. Despite some minimal instrumentation (synths, violas, acoustic guitars, and sparse piano), Forsyth doesn’t really need anything to usher her into the shadows – she does this on her own, at times even appearing ready to vanish into silence itself. There’s an almost frightening aura to this whole experience that begins with that disturbing artwork and ends with the pulsing electronics of its curtain call. It’s a dire existential/spiritual crisis that doesn’t attempt to veil its motives.

At only eight tracks, Debris instills a sense of permanent hopelessness. Forsyth does not strive for a variety of sounds here: it’s a sad, deliberately plodding piece that festers in its own misery. There are occasional surges – especially of synths or strings – but otherwise Forsyth keeps a tight lid on both the pacing and the minimalism. The closest Keeley comes to sounding hopeful is when she sings, “If I could touch this sadness, I would change the world” – which could be construed as optimism at best or an admission of defeat at worst. There’s also ‘Large Oak’, which carries a certain weightlessness thanks to the airy pianos and Forsyth’s wispy howls, although the mood conjured still feels predominantly mournful. One of the most interesting moments on the entire record is its closing bookend, ‘Start Again’, which features a thumping electronic pulse while Keeley’s vocals adopt a rare sense of clarity; it feels like both a bold awakening and a nod towards possible future directions for her music.

Debris is an odd album to critique because it is so murky and dense. Occasional flourishes reveal brilliance (‘Lost’, ‘Start Again’), but mostly it’s a homogeneous trudge through palpable emotional intensity. It culminates in some stunning imagery, which makes it worth the journey especially when you consider the relative brevity of the whole thing. It’s not quite the earth mover that it could have been had Forsyth really let her buried vitriol erupt, but Debris is nevertheless an engrossing, depressive, and highly addicting mood piece that is guaranteed to carry you to dark places while forcing you to question your own sanity.



s
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user ratings (10)
3.2
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
January 17th 2020


33380 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is a really great record. It's pretty difficult to even describe and I think it will continue to grow on me as I become more immersed. Certainly worth a listen if you enjoy depressing and mysterious folk music. The record starts slow (first three tracks are my least favorites) and is very much mid-to-back loaded.

Must-Hear

Start Again (4.5)

Lost (4.5)

If You Liked What You Heard...

Large Oak (4.0)

Butterfly (4.0)

Look to Yourself (3.5)

Can Most Likely Be Skipped

Debris (3.0)

Black Bull (3.0)

It's Raining (3.0)

Digging: Greg Dulli - Random Desire

Slex
Contributing Reviewer
January 17th 2020


9266 Comments


Ooo sounds right up my alley

Digging: King Krule - Man Alive!

letsgofishing
January 17th 2020


1448 Comments


This is the most appealing summary I’ve ever read.

SowingSeason
Moderator
January 17th 2020


33380 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

For what it's worth I'm also the harshest critic of this so far. Every review I've seen of this so far is hailing it as likely to be one of the top 2020 releases. With my new strict rating style, it'll probably come across as an undersell.

WatchItExplode
January 18th 2020


7789 Comments


So far this feels like watching someone blankly stare out the window of a darkened room while gently rocking in their chair.

That appeals to me.

Slex
Contributing Reviewer
January 18th 2020


9266 Comments


Well I hated her voice when I listened to the opening track, sounded like a yodeling old lady to me lmao
I'll push on later tonite and listen to the rest tho

SowingSeason
Moderator
January 18th 2020


33380 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"sounded like a yodeling old lady"

honestly not inaccurate, but I found it charming

WatchItExplode
January 18th 2020


7789 Comments


It's basically Yoko Ono tries to make a swans album. But, you know, better than that sounds.

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
January 19th 2020


18012 Comments


Heard a few tracks off this but yeah Watchit resumes it pretty well.

Digging: Agnes Obel - Myopia

SowingSeason
Moderator
January 19th 2020


33380 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I can't tell it's meant to be a good or poor assessment haha

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
January 19th 2020


18012 Comments


Same, as I couldn't discern if what I was hearing was good or bad ;)

SowingSeason
Moderator
January 19th 2020


33380 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It definitely loses itself in the atmosphere (in a bland way) occasionally, but the peaks more than make up for it.

WatchItExplode
January 19th 2020


7789 Comments


Yeah cant rate but its definitely intriguing.

SowingSeason
Moderator
January 24th 2020


33380 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Not really surprised that this has been slept on, but more people should check it out. Some really haunting moments here.

ItsTheSquirrel
January 24th 2020


360 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I thought I'd like it but I just find almost every song so boring

SowingSeason
Moderator
January 24th 2020


33380 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I did at first but the atmospheres really dug in over time. Almost like a super depressing Hayley Heynderickx. To each his own.



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