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
, 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.
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.
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.