Album Ratings

Worst Beach Vacation Ever, Circa 1997


Release Date:2017-02-03



Based on 2 ratings0100


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Ryan Martin

This EP has a live sound to it, which is perhaps how every rock band’s first release should sound, as a rite of passage: raw, slightly underproduced, a glimmer of potential. The well-rehearsed trio present a tight and consistent performance of these tricky pieces. Odd-time signatures and sudden tempo changes abound, such as the midsection of opener “Who Cares Really”, featuring an 11/8 time signature (1:11) which soon abdicates to a high-energy 7/8. The changes never feel forced, and transitions are seamless, a sign that a lot of time went into refining the material. The percussion tracks on “Worst Beach Vacation” are remarkably restrained for a math-rock band. Drummer Niki Koh, formerly of progressive act Bear Culture, keeps the frenetic fills to a minimum, opting instead to focus on steady backbeats. It is a shame, however, that this tasteful drum performance has been bungled by a smallish drum sound, furthermore placed kind of strangely in the mix. Most grating, perhaps, is the obnoxious snare, brighter than the rest of the kit, which tends to assault the ears like an icepick. Guitarist Adam Lee pulls of some fairly complex work, such as fretboard tapping, legato melody lines, and chimey 7th and 9th chords, with very little to hide behind, tone-wise. Each song utilizes only one guitar throughout, with a tone that never ventures beyond overdriven, giving the impression of being played though one of those tiny Roland Cube amps and a Tubescreamer. Lee shares vocal duties with bassist Darrell Lazer, and their voices are complimentary. The singing style is dynamic, alternating between smooth croons and anguished yells. At the same time, the duo’s attempts at unison or harmony lines thrust into the spotlight their tendency to sound slightly flat. Also, the overall dry sound on “Worst Beach Vacation”, which works well towards making the band sound like they are jamming together in the same room, is often upset by an obnoxious plate-sounding reverb which transports Lee and Lazer out of the studio and into an abbey or some other cavernous place of worship. Now, reading any of the lyrics out loud will reveal that they were most likely lifted from a forlorn secondary school kid’s diary. Thankfully, the juxtaposition of this rom-com sentimentality against the bright and bouncing tonality of the music rescues the band from further derision. The end result which this juxtaposition achieves is a tone of postmodern irony, which is still plenty dorky and arguably not everyone’s cup of tea, but for those who have fond (or not) memories of school, travelling, or perhaps that one intense yet ultimately fleeting romantic encounter, listening to this is guaranteed to elicit some kind of response. A humble debut which only hints at some of the greatness Forests would go on to achieve in a relatively short span of time.