The Lonely Forest


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The Lonely Forest, for better or worse, have never been afraid to risk looking foolish. Their full-length debut, 2007's Nuclear Winter, was an emotional (and slightly naive) concept rock record about watching the earth's demise from outer space. Whoa. The band ditched the overwrought dramatics but kept the youthful passion on 2009's We Sing the Body Electric!, while singer John Van Deusen lyrically opened up about his own battles with addiction and depression. Having already proved that they're capable of impressively relatable and anthemic pop, TLF stay the course on Arrows, which is wrapped up in Chris Walla's precise production, lending an even brighter sheen. But not every track on Arrows is a home run. "(I Am) the Love Skeptic" and "(I Am) the Love Addict" examine two sides of love (the belief it'll never come and the euphoria that comes with finding it), which is a cute concept, but their sentiment feels a little cheesy and the song's poppy guitar and piano riffs ring far less engaging and repetitive than elsewhere on the album. Repetition is also a problem on "Two Notes and a Beat." The five-minute song constantly teases but never really builds into anything.

Ultimately, the good outweighs the bad here—the song "Turn Off This Song and Go Outside" boasts a commanding, guitar-driven presence, backing up Van Deusen's insistence that you make the most of your life. His voice—which can impressively switch between a high-pitched croon and a harrowing scream in the same breath—also showcases in the climactic moments of "End It Now!" and "Woe Is Me... I Am Ruined." The closer, "Arrows" (a slow-paced, building piano ballad), ends things hesitant but hopeful—perhaps a fair representation of the band's headspace during the recording process, balancing both the excitement and the fear that come with their newfound level of success. It's a great reminder that, for the Lonely Forest, this is still only the beginning. recommended