Forest Fire – Screens

Forest Fire are a really great band, one with a true gift for melody and creating mystery but one that never seems to pick up any attention or have any discernible vibe. Oh well. Though this is their most laid back, starry eyed offering, it’s a record that is well worth your time. The opener Waiting In The Night sets the pace; a paean to all sorts of dreamy, fuzzy feelings full of counter harmonies and boasting a lovely spiraling keyboard sound. Yellow Roses is a gentle trot that follows the same path; the keys having a sort of Velvets feel to them.

And so the pace is set through Passengers and Monorail, through tracks like Annie and Great Wall, right to the end with Never Far. It’s all very charming and “just so”. I know pleasant can be used as a derogatory term in the context of rock reviews, but this is a very pleasant record, it’s a great LP to stick on if you just want to pass the time in your own company. There’s a lot going on, and for sure the band is skilled at underplaying their hand and making a sound that is seemingly so simple, and with the minimum of fuss. And whilst at first listen it sounds slightly underpowered, over time you'll see that this approach works a treat. For Forest Fire look to wring the most emotional punch out of the simplest and most basic of sonic conceits. Nothing is wasted. That takes real skill.

They do like to lay down those metronomic Kraut beats and synth layers too; the Deutsch elements start to seep through round the middle of the LP, with the organic electronic fuzz whipped up on Fixation floating off into Cluster territory. And that old D-dorf idea of repetition being an ever changing thing is tested on Annie which is probably the key track on the record. It’s a masterful, sardonic plod, never losing grip its worldview and often paying sly tribute to Kraftwerk, especially with that Schneider-like “flute sound” floating above the track.   

Top stuff, and as I said, if you’ve just poured a large scotch and you’re settled on the sofa, you could do worse than sticking this LP on.