Four years after their debut, Icarus, Brooklyn’s The Forms lay down their powerful self-titled follow-up. In the intervening years, the band has played with a host of great alternative acts, from Q and not U to The National, and the Forms’ expansive post-rock-meets-lappop is now more grounded in indie music. However, thanks probably in no small part to working once again with legendary producer Steve Albini (Nirvana, The Pixies), The Forms still retains the band’s beauty and soul.
The Forms’ convergence of sound, drawing equally from indietronica, fuzzy instrumentals, and hipster grooves, plays itself out on The Forms in varied and interesting ways. The moving “Knowledge In Hand” opens things up strongly, being both expansive and in possession of a great beat, all the while carrying definite emotional heft. The following “Alpha” is unfortunately a not-quite-as-good-version of “Knowledge”, but The Forms range farther with “Red Gun”. Sadder, yet pushing, “Red Gun” verges, at times, upon emo, but always only to sweeten the pot with catchiness.
In general, The Forms is at its strongest when it keeps things a little less than straightforward. The record is replete with heartrendingly touching pieces, such as the almost lappop “Focus” (kind of like what might happen if someone took away the keyboards from +/-), the fuzzy, shady-but-never-dark “Bones”, and the simple and pretty, yet driving and forceful, “Oberlin”. But prior track “Blue Whale” perhaps gangles too much with clanging guitars (though still retains melody), and “Oberlin” follower “Transmission” has a serious, upfront nature that lacks some remarkableness.
Maybe The Forms is best summed up by its final track, “Getting It Back”. The reverberating number is both interesting and enjoyable, something The Forms might never have lost, but they are certainly at once again.