Indie rock is all about not trying at anything while still coming off as lazily cool. The ideal is a lead singer just standing their onstage while his guitar and bass counterparts sway gently to the beat. The drummer may never lift his hand more than six inches above the skins, preferably looking around the room, apparently bored by how easy it is to write music this good. The Forms are masters of this mentality, and it bleeds through like an open wound onto their "full-length", Icarus.
To address the obvious question haunting this record, yes, it really is only 18 minutes long. Yes, it is priced as an LP. Part of me questions this apparent shortage of music, but most of me just submits to the bored precision of this disc; their singer sounds like he's improvising the entire record. But the thing is, The Forms scrutinized every last millimeter of tape on this thing; they went over the tape 58 times before they decided it was ready for release. That's some serious time investment in an 18 minute offering. So how does the production turn out? Flawless, in fact. The entire album melts together into one track, one continuation of one idea. It must be mentioned that Steve Albini twirled the knobs for this one, and his skill does show through. But reviewer, how are the songs? Silence. I?m getting to that. Damn.
"Stel" leads off the album with soaring chords and vocals. Look at the cover art: that is this song. They could not have come up with a better visualization for their music. The entire album seems to take place in the greenery under some bridge with magic dust floating about the band as they rock out effortlessly. Never before have I heard the drums, bass and guitar intertwine so flawlessly on a debut album. The guitars are softly distorted over an organic bass and cymbals crashing like rainstorms. The singer has a smooth, ethereal voice that mostly provides the perfect smoothing on top of the sometimes thorny instrumentation, but other times can serve to serrate the edge of the blade a little more severely.
The listener cannot really detect transition between tracks as the records progresses through the "Stel" movement to the "Innizar" movement and beyond to the finale, "Black Metal. " There are seven songs on the CD, but ten tracks; tracks are cross-pollinated with ideas and song structures. The Forms manage to blend their entire work together without falling into bland repetitiveness; maybe it's just because it only lasts for 18 minutes, but I think there's something more here. Icarus achieves coherency without conformity. The results are almost never mixed in success, but vary greatly in approach; some songs flirt with aggressiveness, but oftentimes The Forms are content with crafting music of soaring beauty.
Undoubtedly the most beautiful moment of Icarus occurs with "Stravinsky." A bouncing piano lick segues into guitar harmonics. In the background, the singer chimes "Well I can't be / what I am not." As the album closes with "Black Metal," dusk falls on the bridge scene, with only the luminescent dust providing a fading light. The band evanesces into the night, without even signing autographs; and so the band comprised of a Geography teacher and a computer scientist, among others, disappears, leaving in its wake as much mystery as grand impact.
Buy this CD.
10.0 - Flawless
9.5-9.9 - Nearly perfect
9.0-9.4 - Essential
8.5-8.9 - Spectacular
8.0-8.4 - Highly recommended
7.5-7.9 - Impressive
7.0-7.4 - Very solid
6.5-6.9 - Consistent, but not without its flaws
6.0-6.4 - Enjoyable
5.5-5.9 - Better than average; not many standout qualities
5.0-5.4 - Nothing special, but nice enough
4.0-4.9 - Listenable; only a few enjoyable moments
3.0-3.9 - Not worth the price
2.0-2.9 - Pitiful
1.0-1.9 - Terrifying
0.1-0.9 - Redefines awful
0.0 - Avoid it like the plague