The most confident Singaporean emo threesome

In 2020, Forests found itself embroidered in an international emo tapestry when it opened Vulture list of top 100 emo songs of all time. Although they came dead last, they had their place cemented among the likes of American Football and Sunny Day Real Estate – significant recognition for the Singaporean trio’s unique take on the genre in their marriage of complex progressive rock beats with punk melodies and sarcastic puns.

Perhaps that laurel has imbued the group with more confidence. ‘Get In Losers, We’re Going To Eternal Damnation’, their third album and follow-up to 2019’s ‘Spending Eternity In A Japanese Convenience Store’, doesn’t necessarily evolve the band’s sound, but it presents them in their most assured form.

There are moments on this new album where it feels like Darell Laser (bass, vocals), Niki Koh (drums) and new member Daniel Lim (guitars, vocals) are frantically heading off in opposite directions. They create sonic mayhem that dances dangerously close to collapse, held back by a patchwork of catchy melodies and an adherence – of sorts – to each song’s guiding tempo.

It fits the personality Forests likes to embrace: the eternal goofy underdog whose worst nightmare becomes a parody of themselves. They avoid this by never letting an idea reappear often enough to freeze, with each part jumping from one section to the next at the speed of the blink of an eye and you’ll miss it. This rushed approach matches the catharsis their music seems to invite, with Laser and Lim often shouting every syllable within an inch of breathlessness. Opener ‘Fool of Hell’ epitomizes this perfectly. Beginning with a math-rock intro built around a swirling riff, the song transitions into a quick pop punk chorus of “Crazy about you / Crazy about hell“that you can practically hear the fans screaming in unison during the shows.

The interplay between the band’s punk leanings and their willingness to indulge their muso instincts has always been what made Forests special. While their previous records attempted to merge these two impulses, ‘Get In Losers’ is perhaps the record where they finally perfected it. Tracks such as “Godspeedbaby!” are a perfect marriage between furious hardcore beats and technically perfect breakdowns.

Kudos to Lim for molding himself into a well-oiled machine, taking founding guitarist Adam Jared Lee’s place as Forests’ melodic linchpin. Lim’s playing goes through some of the same tones as Lee, but with a more aggressive and frenetic edge that’s just perfect for this set of songs.

While Forests certainly isn’t shy about singing about relationships, heartbreak, and the genre’s usual themes, what they do well is explore them with new imagery. Take this line from ‘Jazz Ruined My Life’: “Struggle with my thoughts / You’re a stone cold stunner / One two three I’m leaving!” or this one in ‘Snowball’: “I can’t dream / I can’t sleep / I miss you by Blink-182.” These clever banter on their records might sound fancy, but they add to the band’s crisp, youthful energy.

There’s a more muscular tone to ‘Get In Losers’, with every beat and chord hitting harder than on previous records. It almost feels like the band is now ready for its unveiling, to be seen in a brighter light and with a clearer lens. Here are the forests at their peak, ready to conquer the world.

Details

  • Release date: April 1
  • A record label: Sweetness Follows / Dogknights

About Raymond Lang

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