Since Britpop’s highs in the 90s, British bands haven’t had quite the same overwhelming effect on the world. So when there’s a bright and shining new talent hailing from the United Kingdom, it is hard to not get excited. But what happens when the talent is comprised of a handful of 18-year-old boys? It feels a little unnerving, right? “Can they really be that good?” you ask yourself.
When first listening to Forest‘s Sweetcure EP (Tip Top Recordings), it’s exactly that experience. The collection of four songs is mature and catchy, fast-moving, and confident. So when listeners learn that the lead singer is a newly crowned 18 year old, it’s quite jarring. Not only are the songs lyrically and structurally well written, but the quality of the recordings is also promising (there’s a note on the SoundCloud page that the record is self-produced).
The EP begins with the upbeat track “Good People.” The song floats through fuzzy guitar riffs and Strokes-like vocals. It’s the kind of track you’d want to listen to while flying through a European city during the summer, dodging opposing cars like bullets.
Track 2 is where the EP shows the most promise. “John” is a killer song–something Germans would tag as an immediate “Ohrwurm,” or, a song that gets stuck in your head. The constant electric riffs accompanied by the backing guitar and cheerful, storytelling lyrics and back-up oohs all blend together to form a sincerely energetic track. This song sounds so much beyond the boys’ time. There’s a quick moment in the song when the vocalist recalls, “Since I was 9, I liked looking at…” and you realize the guy who is singing is referencing his childhood and recollecting his pre-teen years. In that second it’s apparent that YES, these musicians aren’t too far from their youth, despite how impressively mature this song sounds.
Taking off from where the first track left off, track 3’s “The Great Greens” brings back a faster-strumming sound and an incredibly singable chorus. The song is vocally reminiscent of the Swedish pop band Peter Bjorn and John, with double vocals and other similar delivery techniques. It’s a driving song that never slows down, even during the instrumental breaks.
“The Travelling Circus” rounds out the EP with a stronger “rock” sound, heavy with jagged guitars and a different lead vocalist. The drums feel a bit more prominent on this track because they’re so hard-hitting. This song really shows a different side of the band that wasn’t evident in the first three tracks, resulting in a broader debut.
Cambridge’s Forest is accurately categorized on their label’s SoundCloud page as “fuzzy-rock/pop” music. At first glance I wouldn’t necessarily be intrigued to listen to another band that claims to carry such a sound; it seems as if the industry is saturated with groups that use this adjective today as a go-to means of self-categorization. But Forest truly delivers and they’re worth every listen, especially considering that the band members are just 18. It’s exciting to consider what’s to come for this young band.