S/T by Forth Wanderers
Genre: Indie Rock
Favorite Tracks: “Nevermine,” “Ages Ago,” “Taste,” “Not For Me,” “New Face,” “Tired Games,” “Temporary”
I’ve been an asshole before. I’ve been that “guy” before. I’ve been told off by the opposite gender a good amount of times. I think I’ve gotten a lot better though—you know, gotten my bearings in the love department. There’s still people who were taken for granted, people used, people who will hate me for a while. I’ve tried my best at apologizing. That’s probably not good enough for the most of them, but at least it’s better than nothing. I definitely regret a lot of things, and I try not to dwell on the past. But on their major label, self-titled debut, the Forth Wanderers are here to remind me and every other “asshole” of the mistakes made, the good times had, and ultimately the steps taken to getting over all our bullshit.
Before you start finger-wagging, I just want to clarify: I’ve also been on the other end of things. Heartache and I go way back. And I’m sure we’ll hang out sometime in the future too—scratch that, I know we will. That (probably) goes for all you reading this as well! The pathos of the Forth Wanderers lies in their deft exploration of this dichotomy: the loved and the unloved, the stoic and the broken, the perp and the victim. On a few tracks, frontwomen Ava Trilling is doing her best to take form of the phlegmatic. Success is in sight as she relinquishes a former flame from their pedestal (and places herself on it instead) on “Nevermine” and “Company.” However, that success is in constant danger of the beguilement that cherished memories drive, as Trilling is equal parts fed up and lovelorn on “Tired Games.”
As empowered as the narrator appears sometimes, the threat of falling back in love lurks behind almost every song. By the sound of “Ages Ago,” Trilling practically sounds close to giving up on her word, or perhaps already has, singing, “I won’t wait / For a new you to come my way / Ages ago / I said, ages ago.” If that was “ages ago,” how does she feel now? The subdued, warbling guitar and metronomic drumming hint at a rather nonchalant commitment to moving on. And it appears, as on “Not For Me,” that Trilling’s relapsed, as she recounts one of those late night trysts that masquerade as passionate reunion when really it’s nothing more than a one-night-stand. But this isn’t exactly unbeknownst to her, as she makes her getaway: “I left before you saw me / Before you could follow.”
There isn’t an explicitly linear narrative here, but that’s exactly why it plays like a perfect illustration of the aftermath of a relationship. The rollercoaster that it is, the album brings me right back to each high and low and everything in between. Some songs feel like direct sequels to a prior one. “New Face” features Trilling contemplating a recent rebound, “I woke up to a new face . . . but I won’t stay.” It sounds like she may even be relaying this to her ex as she spurns his victim card, “ . . . when you say I’m unfair / I don’t take the bait.” The following “Saunter” works as a more full account of this conversation as it details the ex’s rebuttal: “You’d say that I get around / I’d say that I’m tightly bound.” She remains firm in the face of some subtle slut-shaming as she remarks, “I think I should let my hair down.” She says it in such an insouciant trill that there’s no way any of it could get to her. You can just see her shrugging it off. I felt this tickle of nostalgic frustration as the song brought me back to a moment just like this. I had no right to be angry, I was the one who cheated, but damn, does your own medicine suck, especially when you really deserve it.
Occasionally, Trilling even deigns to her past love’s level of pettiness. “Taste” sees the Machiavellian precautions one takes before committing to a new relationship: “He likes my taste / But I bite his tongue / You know, just in case.” Under willowy guitars, Trilling even warns a new suitor of what she’s liable to do on “Be My Baby,” and it’s hurt or be hurt in this world. As is usually the case, however, all the slighting and rebounding is for naught, doing more harm than good, because in the end, love is still lost.
Like I said before, I, too, have been a casualty of love, and probably the hardest part about it isn’t getting over it, but being told by everyone how easy it is to do so. While my world is on the verge of ending, friends and family alike are advising to just move on. As if it’s that simple. On closer “Temporary,” Trilling gets it. She’s equally tired of being administered the same nostrum, to “step up and be strong,” and at the same time having her grief minimized to something that’s just “temporary.” Because it’s not temporary in the moment. In the moment, it’s eternal. It’s everything.