Forgive Durden - Wonderland (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Forgive Durden

Wonderland (2006)

Fueled by Ramen

I guess it's sort of a given that when one of your favorite bands is so directly ripped off the first time, you're really not going to mind all that much. I certainly don't mind it with the various number of post-Kid Dynamite bands (being the best example of this), and I'm not going to complain (yet) with the sudden influence Seattle, WA's Gatsbys American Dream is beginning to claim a throne to in that particular scene.

I'm referring to the same city's Forgive Durden, who ambitiously writes a concept album for their debut, Wonderland, apparently about the travails of a young man going through the life cycles of finding love and capitalist greed enslavement and the like. Despite that subject matter, which gets fairly dark at times (I mean shit, a CEO does get capped at one point), the album is extremely upbeat emo/pop-punk with all of Gatsbys' tendencies: poppy but strong, sultry vocals, creative guitar base, and a slew of time changes.

FD provide a little bit of separation with their diverse instrumentation, however. Whether it be the horn section of "Ear to Ear" or mandolin of "Parable of the Sower," the band serves up bits of ear candy that add a necessary distinct flavor to their tunes. "Il Tango Della Signora Francesco Di Bartolommeo Di Zanobi Del Giocondo" even closes with some lively tribal drum beats.

While much of Wonderland feels a bit restrained, the standout is opener "Ants;" it's the most charged, energetic offering, feeling flat out aggressive in comparison to the rest of the album. It also solidly sets the mood to come. The keyboards and general guitars of "The Great Affair Is to Move" give it a heavy vibe akin to Boys Night Out's Trainwreck, while the opening chords and hushed singing of "I've Got a Witch Mad at Me and You Might Get Into Trouble" remind an awful lot of Brand New's "The Quiet Things No One Ever Knows."

Also, Casey Bates produced the album. You may know him for Gatsbys' Volcano, as well as fellow GAD followers This Providence; he applies the same type of crisp sound here, which further engrosses the similarities.

While it definitely isn't all that original, Fueled by Ramen has put out their best release in years with Forgive Durden's Wonderland. The band's sound may be one very obviously rooted in modern influences, but they're drawing from some of the best for their already top-notch, bold songwriting, so once all's smoothed out they're sure to deliver a spectacular mark upon the scene as opposed to a merely efficient one.

Beware the Jubjub Bird And Shun the Frumious Bandersnatch
Il Tango Della Signora Francesco Di Bartolommeo Di Zanobi Del Giocondo

The Great Affair Is to Move
For a Dreamer, Night's the Only Time of Day