Forest Fire - Staring At The X

There’s a lazy insouciance about the whole thing, not to say an underplayed grandeur

Forest Fire’s Staring At The X is a languorous record, one for contemplating over a glass of wine, accompanied by a good, long stare out of the window at the neighbour’s latest folly. There’s a lazy insouciance about the whole thing, not to say an underplayed grandeur: the opening gambit, Born Into has a scuzzy vibe that hangs around in the doorway, drawling out its message to anyone who can be bothered to listen and not really that bothered whether it stays or goes, to be honest. 

Even when the tempo is raised, as with Future Shadows or when an obvious pop hook is presented and given a work over as in The News or Visions in Plastic there is no sense of urgency. They seem to have mapped out their ideas beforehand and stick to their game-plan. And quite happy, as with the brutal ending on News, to stop when they get bored. No crowd pleasing here. I also like that they hint about their subjects, the listener has to fill in the gaps of the band’s message for themselves. Now I’m guessing but I don’t think they’re that bothered whether the listener’s needs feel catered for or assuaged.  For example, They Pray Execution Style comes at a point when the LP gets more and more accessible and in that it’s a complete stopper; an obtuse, ill-defined grumble aided by a lazy beat now and again. In terms of that point it feels irritating. In terms of the record as a whole, it makes a very valid point that the band isn’t here to be rushed into giving all their goodies away at once. 

After this aural full stop the LP starts to meander on like a deep, slow moving river. The title track is a quick and slightly sarcastic “told you so” and Blank Appeal is a heavy and powerful lament tied to a growling riff. There’s something about the way they set up the simplest chord structures and imbue them with this equivocal, lazy menace through atmospherics and a sort of “textural patience”, or inertia. The music just hangs around.  Visions in Plastic is a classic riff straight from The Velvet Underground’s Loaded LP, but what the heck?

Top record. Love it.