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December 2018 / January 2019
Review

Forth Wanderers - Forth Wanderers

‘Forth Wanderers’ sparkles with a pensive, but optimistic energy.
Forth Wanderers - Forth Wanderers
Published: 11:43 am, April 23, 2018
‘Forth Wanderers’ sparkles with a pensive, but optimistic energy.

Label: Sub Pop
Released: 27th April 2018
Rating: ★★★

Formed in 1904, Forth Wanderers JFC play at Kingshill Park, competing in the Central District First Division of the Scottish Junior Football Association. They’ve also added the following to their Twitter bio: “That's the Scottish Fitba club, not the American Indie band.”
If it seems odd for a five-piece from Montclair, New Jersey to borrow their name from a football team far off in a South Lanarkshire village - after stumbling across it on the internet - they’re not alone, joining Saint Etienne and, er, Kaiser Chiefs, who looked for inspiration to the pitches of France and South Africa respectively.

Since forming in 2013, (the other) Forth Wanderers have released a couple of EPs and an 8-track debut album - 2014’s ‘Tough Love’ - but this self-titled second, coming after a move to the still impeccably cool Sub Pop, has all the confidence and assurance of a debut, and shows they might now be ready to move to the big leagues.

Songwriting duties are split between singer Ava Trilling (about as perfect a surname for a singer as you can imagine) and guitarist Ben Guterl, who sends instrumental demos for Trilling to add lyrics and melodies: it worked well enough for Morrissey and Marr after all. If ’Tough Love’ suffered from a surfeit of self-contained, knotty instrumentals, with vocal lines wandering, lacking a little in the shape of hooks, here songs like the playfully needling ‘Company’ and ‘Taste’ are arresting and assertive, while ’Not For Me’ and ‘Temporary’ wed beauty and noise.

Trilling trades in a brutal, bittersweet sincerity (“I’ll be honest with myself/From now on”, she sings on ‘Company’) clothed in Guterl and second guitarist Duke Greene’s gently bruising arrangements - equal parts jangle and fuzz. With an almost sweetly sobbing tone - the opening ‘Nevermine’, or the vaguely Courtney Barnett-ian 'Tired Games' - her songs are wistful but rarely self-pitying, and ‘Forth Wanderers’ sparkles with a pensive, but optimistic energy. Rob Mesure

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