I feel old.
I know I’ve only just turned twenty, and I’m still young enough that actual old people can tell me clichés like “Youth is wasted on the young!” while wagging their fingers at me, or act all high and mighty for not knowing how to use a cell phone as if that’s something to be proud of. But the real world of jobs and taxes and IRAs and 401Ks is bearing down like a massive, terrifying shadow over me, and the more I think about it the more I hope that faking it ’til I make it is a viable career plan.
Meanwhile, Ava Trilling, the sugar-voiced frontwoman of indie group Forth Wanderers, is starting her freshman year of college while simultaneously releasing the four-track Slop EP and touring the East coast in support of said album.
So yeah. I feel old.
My pet peeve with most indie albums is the pacing. Everything is just so agonizingly sloooooow. It’s molasses speed, so that however many tracks unfold into what feels like two hours of moaning and distorted guitars. Now, I get the whole melancholy, jaded millennial thing going on; really, I do. But sometimes I wonder how it feels to live in the slow-moving, indie-darling dream world Forth Wanderers insists on creating: you spend days staring out the dirty window of your Brooklyn apartment, gazing languidly at trees and thinking about heartbreak. You get high at a basement show and walk home in the rain and meditate on how no one gets you. You occasionally go to your classes, but mostly you just stay home to write poetry in an oversized thrift-store sweater. Or something like that.
I’m not picking on Forth Wanderers but the genre itself, partly because I’m elderly and grumpy and partly because I know that’s what indie pop is now: slow and languishing with little prickles of excitement thrown in for good measure. It’s their thing, it’s the aesthetic, but it’s more indie than pop–somewhere along the line that delicate ratio got skewed. That’s why “Know Better,” Slop‘s single, is such a standout track: it’s not a prickle of excitement, it’s straight-up pop fun, done up with indie flair like Trilling’s lilting vocals and simple chords. It gets down to business right away, and unlike the jaded-millennial thing I just tore into, I can really get behind Forth Wanderers’ careful optimism about outgrowing someone and learning those hard relationship lessons: “I hope one day you’ll see / Just what you’ve done to me / I can’t be this naïve anymore.” Growing up sucks. Forth Wanderers gets that.
“Unfold” doesn’t have the same cheerfulness behind it that “Know Better” possesses, but it’s somber and twangy and slightly heavier than the rest of the EP. It relishes its own melodrama, so lines like “I don’t do what I’m told / Help me unfold, I need to unfold” stick with you and resonate, becoming cathartic rather than over-the-top dramatic. The intensity of the emotion in Trilling’s voice is almost startling. The end of the song seems to come much too soon; by the time its two minutes are up you’ll be wishing for it to go on just a little bit longer, unfold just a little bit more.
I love it when bands prove me wrong, and Forth Wanderers proves slow indie pop isn’t always dull. In fact, sometimes it can turn out pretty damn great.
Check out Forth Wanderers along the East coast November 11 to 13. Slop EP is out on Father/Daughter and House Anxiety November 11.