The Forms – Icarus EP

The Forms
Icarus EP

Icarus is a most impressive debut from this trio of The Forms. First, the presentation achieves a whole new level. The tri-fold, glossy packaging is beautiful, and like the enhanced element of the CD, it contains photography that is rather haunting. Forget band info and thank-yous, this album includes only the visual elements that provide an extremely interesting companion to the music on the album.
And the music… that’s more difficult to describe. The band’s name led me to believe I was about to hear another The Strokes or The Vines, but instead The Forms are something akin to Slint meets Sunny Day Real Estate, or perhaps June of ’44 meets Fugazi. Recorded by Steve Albini, the sound here is impeccable, and every track is near flawless in its style.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had so much difficulty describing a band. Surely, this should fit in somewhere among the emo bands, as the singer’s voice goes from sung to yelped, breaking at the right moments, drawing out certain words for effect. There are a host of time changes, but never where you’d expect and how you’d expect. The guitars are edgy yet melodic, the percussion fast and intricate. There’s piano and other assorted touches sprinkled throughout. And yet somehow, The Forms have managed to create music that doesn’t sound tired or jaded. They’ve managed to put a new spin on the emo/indie-rock sound.
There are some truly impressive moments on the album. The introductory “Stel” is edgy and urgent, but “Innizar” takes the emotional impact up a few notches. Even as the music gets more melodic – the guitars flowing while the bass pulses – the vocals get more intense. “Sunday” is almost pretty at many moments, even as the guitars and vocals soar on the album’s best and most shining moments. There’s hints of DC-style herky-jerky rock to the more mathy “Seagull,” and “Stravinsky” incorporates shimmering piano/keyboards for a decidedly pretty and intricate touch. And it flows nicely into the last track, “Black Metal,” which brings back the Slint-esque style of rock, toned down a bit for a more intricate approach but still edgy and aggressive.
As impressed as I am by this EP, I still feel The Forms have not reached their potential yet. At times, Icarus feels forced – insert moody breakdown here, insert scream here, as if the band is trying to incorporate elements from a list, even if they do it effortlessly. And then there’s the length. Ten tracks over 18 minutes with seven songs; it all feels like the band had nothing left.
Still, Icarus never gets old, and it’s worth repeating several times. It’s one of those albums that takes several listens to appreciate, and those are usually the longest lasting albums. If Icarus is the band’s defining moment, it may not last, but I imagine it’s actually just a tease for many more things to come. Impressive to say the least, Icarus clearly establishes The Forms as the band to look out for in indie rock.