Thought Forms - Songs About Drowning

by Ian Fraser Rating:9 Release Date:2016-11-04

Although they are well enough respected, Thought Forms have never really been afforded the level of sales and acclaim that their winning brand of corrosive garage psych and spacy cinematic soundscapes deserve.

That may all be about to change as the Wiltshire outfit – now expanded to a four-piece with the addition of producer Jim Barr (Portishead and Get The Blessing) on bass – release their third album. It’s their most accomplished statement yet, one which manages to sound more refined and grown up while still packing a mean punch to an exposed aural solar plexus.

‘Forget My Name’ is the album’s outrider that has been softening us up for a while now and which us a fitting opening gambit here. It’s a lushly atmospheric, gothic-folk creation that favours cruise control over raw power, showcasing the understated, almost otherworldly female/male vocal pairing of Charlie Romijn and Deej Dhariwal. It’s Dhariwal’s lead guitar that stands out on ‘Woolf Music’ which takes the portentous template of ‘Forget My Name’ and drags it to further murky depths. He’s an incendiary player when he needs to be but here applies enough brake to merely hint at what turbulence lies under the surface.

Barr’s presence is felt on a couple of numbers where both his production skills and jazz leanings are used to good effect such as on the more experimental ‘Aeaea’, which shows how varied their sonic palette has become, and again on ‘Island’ which could easily grace the next Portishead album and most probably knock spots off most of the competition.

Here and there the band revisit fruitful pastures by channelling their inner Sonic Youth, who may well have sounded like this had Kim Gordon been able to sing, while the enchantingly languid ‘Drawn’ is effectively in its simplicity – Dhariwal’s solo-era Thurston Moore to Romijn’s Gordon. ‘By The Stars’, by contrast, really ought to be the next single. It may not quite be the best thing here but it’s bound to push all the buttons as far as a more discerning Radio 6 jocks are concerned, while ‘The Lake’, which brings matters to a close, manages the neat feat of sounding both deceptively lazy and thrilling.

It’s difficult to overstate how good an album this is. To call it perfect may be stretching a point, particularly as albums that grab you on the first couple of listens can often lose their initial lustre quite quickly. That hasn’t happened yet mind you. While only time will tell whether Songs About Drowning is a stone cold classic, you’d be hard pressed to pick a better album all year.

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