Every Tuesday, Torontoist scours record store shelves in search of the city’s most notable new releases and brings you the best—or sometimes just the biggest—of what we’ve heard in Sound Advice.
For those who were taken with Forest City Lovers‘ folk-pop complexity on the 2008 attention-earning sophomore album Haunting Moon Sinking, it’s felt like a longer wait than it’s been for the follow up, Carriage, out today on Out of This Spark.
The wait was made all the more tantalizing by the few new songs that emerged in the meantime; first, the stellar bombast of “Minneapolis” on the Friends in Bellwoods II compilation last August, then, the release of the Phodilus & Tyto seven-inch at the end of 2009, and of course, its incredibly infectious single (and video for) “If I Were A Tree.” All the songs have bigger hooks, tighter arrangements, and a clearer direction, and the rest of the material unearthed on Carriage lives up to the previews.
The most immediate change apparent on Carriage is that ringleader Kat Burns is expanding her songs from wistful, spruced-up bedroom pop into richly layered, dynamic orchestral pop. The hushed-folk foundations are still in tact, such as on “Oh the Wolves! (Ou est ma Soeur?),” but Forest City Lovers blooms here from a quiet solo project into a full-fledged band, intuitive and fun, turning the bottom half of the aforementioned track into a dreamy, brainy, music-box rave-up, and making the ’70s new-wave thump of standout track “Constellation” (streaming above) possible. Lyrically, not much has changed—Forest City Lovers remain influenced most strongly by their band namesake, their loved/hated homebase city, and rural escapes. On “Light You Up,” Burns laments the city’s suffocating air, eager to flee, waiting for spring’s rejuvenating sun, while on “Phodilus and Tyto,” she could be breathlessly admiring the concrete jungle at its quietest: “Take a good look around as the city fades away,” lights out, people in, room to breathe.
Increasingly compelling as it unfolds both musically and lyrically, Carriage bristles with a warm wonder, personality, and hints of tension, and with it, Forest City Lovers successfully stand up (and out) amongst their peers.