“Homegrown hymns for those with no religion.”
Survival was recorded over an eight-month period in two locations – Brooklyn, New York and Portland, Oregon. “Not all the members of Forest Fire live on the same coastline,” Mark Thresher explains, “So when certain friends roll through town, things happen pretty quickly.” Consequently, long periods of time passed between sessions and the songs sat untouched for months. Many of the tracks were recorded live in less than five takes, then maniacally overdubbed by a variety of players. Sometimes there was only one microphone for the entire band. Sometimes they pulled out a few more. “No one was in a hurry,” Thresher says, “but eventually enough material was gathered to justify putting something out.”
“For me, this thing is a document of stylistic integrity that felt very important to all of us at the time,” says Thresher. But Survival also houses a feeling of blatant disregard, one that unabashedly nods to the rich and historic landscape of American punk rock. The tracks are littered with out-of-tune horns, vibrant bursts of guitar and layers of screeching electronics. Nathan Delffs’ frantic guitar work threads throughout dark and carefully executed harmonies by the likes of Sharon Van Etten, Myisha Battle and Nick Delffs (Shaky Hands). Ghostly synthesizers, arresting vocals and loose percussion are woven together under the glimmering production values of Adam Spittler. Thresher’s lyrics also require a close listen; while brief, they remain consistently purposeful and sincere.
Survival is a moment-to-moment kind of recording. Songs of total grit will suddenly part to reveal blue sky, before dissolving once again into disorder. On tracks such as “Slow Motion” and “Sunshine City”, sparse arrangements creep along, then grow as thick and tangled as jungle brush. On “Through My Gloves”, Thresher spits in waves, threatening and concise, and ditches the restrained lyrical approach for a moment. He casts a convincing scene; “I’m living for what’s on my mind”, as if to defend something sacred. In contrast, “I Make Windows” aches along delicately and the catchy and imaginative “Fortune Teller” holds an outright pop sensibility. Although Thresher describes it simply as “something that felt very important to all of us at the time”, Survival is a modern album, built with enough fortitude and spirit to warrant repeated listens.
Forest Fire are Mark Thresher, Nathan Delffs, Adam Splittler et Myisha Battle.
Guest Musicians: Colin Anderson, Emily Anderson, Nick Delffs, Sharon Van Etten, Mayhaw Hoons, Ben Sanabria, Jeremiah Stewart, and Natalie Stomann
« there’s hidden gold amid the bricolage, particularly the hazy falsettos on “Sunshine City” and the Byrdsian harmonies on “Echoes Coming”, which set up a beautiful tension between the songs’ calloused textures and melodic gleam. »