My first thoughts when listening to the new record Forward by Bare Walls was that the guitars sounded just about perfect for an “indie rock” record. They sound similar, just a bit more refined than some of the guitars you hear on Slanted and Enchanted. I think a lot of guitar records these days sound thin but on this record they have a meaty mid-range with a welcome absence of shrill highs. To say just the guitars sounded good would be a disservice because the production in general sounded good. The mix was top notch, which only made the impact of the songs feel more visceral and impactful.
Stylistically, the band plays relatively straight forward indie rock but have exceptional skill on the guitar that come more in the form of creativity than technical ability. I'm not saying the guitar playing is bad by any stretch of the imagination it's just that what stuck out to me was how they were played and some of the inventive ways in which they created sound.
First up off the album is “Cynic,” which is rather slow moving and melancholy. It rocks out with waves of distortion and is also an emotionally heavy song about overcoming adversity and change. The vocalist sings “I've been lost at sea in my own mind/But don't give up on me, I swear I see the shore/This is the year we've waited for our whole lives /And nothing has changed/The cynic I was will move with them too.”
The second song “Bittersweet” is packed with tons of great guitar riffs and has great a second half. The guitars sound like they are d-tuned as the band gets heavy but with virtually no segue the lead guitar switches to an inventive solo that the rest of the band quickly follows.
The guitars that burst out of the gate on “Nothing Without” sound like a pulsating burst of light. I’m not sure how they got that sound but it was impressive.
The band closes with the longest song on the album entitled “Brother.” The mix of the picked guitars and the inventive drums sounded great – an appetizing warm concoction that gives off a melancholy sound but is wrapped in solace. The bands reaches for a triumphant chorus that sounds bigger than anything else they have done on the record.
Overall, Forward is a very good album. It isn’t without some flaws but it showcases a number of excellent songs.
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