Forced Random - It's Not Your Fault I Don't Blame You

by Steve Rhodes Rating:8.5 Release Date:2013-09-11

The début EP from London-based one-man singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Oliver Girdler, Forced Random's It's Not Your Fault I Don't Blame You is an intriguing and introspective collection of songs which feel anything but forced and expand significantly beyond the confines of their home recordings.

'Meantime' is a brief, mournful instrumental opener which looks to the wilds and the skies for inspiration. Dominated by a repeated descending, spacious guitar and accompanied with quiet glitchy electronics and reverbed instrumentation, treading similar ground to Hood, Ganger and Our Sleepless Forest, it is a beautiful introduction, with a hint of sadness, which fades effortlessly, leaving the background atmospherics of a developing storm.

'Forever/Always' sidesteps this path, taking a calmer approach, with acoustic and electric guitars, and drums leading the way, supporting Oliver's restrained but expressive vocal. It's a simple and effective song that feels akin to Kepler, Early Day Miners, but especially Bedhead in the vocals and general mood. The song continues to develop with a high-end bass and organ appearing part-way through.

With repetition a key for an extended period, guitars politely weave in and out in a Stereolab-meets-Lambchop manner, and the track feels reassuring, especially when Oliver's vocal appears: "If I stay here/ I'll be alright and I'll thank you for being alright/ We'll be just fine". The guitars become more expressive as the song continues and effects are increased with added discordance, like Yo La Tengo, in the extended outro.

'Explain/Explode' almost catches you off guard with the vocals ("Wake up"), feeling similar in its surprise to the use of the same words in the cult film Donnie Darko. However, with only a feint, high-pitched, deeply-delayed and reverbed guitar buried deep in the background, perhaps sharing its DNA, the track is more of a country-tinged lullaby, not a million miles from Low, with a double-tracked vocal and acoustic guitar dominating. With a chord organ appearing partway through, it is a restful ode to reinvigour the senses.

The highlight of the EP is 'Once Again', a gloriously haunting song, where shrill keys and drums are accompanied by acoustic, electric and slide guitars and an increase in background noises and electronics. With a strong touch of melancholy, the guitars become more effects-driven and tenser in pitch as the volume increases, with the slide guitar especially effective at delivering a powerful punch. There is a lot going on here, but it never feels overwrought, a great song which evokes images of the wilderness, that feels like the strongest, heartfelt, work of The National, British Sea Power and New Zealand's Pluto combined.

After a peppering of different emotions, EP closer 'No Words' is an good choice of song to finish. An uncomplicated track with a simple guitar riff, drums, organ and a delicate vocal, like Broken Dog meets an olde English Flaming Lips at a funfair, it provides the listener with a relaxing and optimistic finale.

It's Not Your Fault I Don't Blame You is a confident and mature début from Forced Random, full of contrasting, well-crafted and memorable songs, which could fit perfectly on the roster of Rocket Girl records. The only very minor issue with it is that the track-listing seems a little haphazard, with the songs not always flowing well together. However, it still showcases the plethora of ideas Oliver has. An excellent release which he can easily improve upon.
http://forcedrandom.bandcamp.com/

 

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