Album Reviews

¡Forward, Russia! – Life Processes

(Cooking Vinyl) UK release date: 14 April 2008

Advance, Persia! No. Trample Onwards, Denmark. No. Thereyougothattaway, The Dominican Republic.Thrice no. The whole country + direction naming convention never really took off in the way wethought, despite ¡Forward, Russia!’s honourable trail blazing.

As for the punctuation, well, Panic At The Disco may have dropped their exclamation mark butthese guys could drop an exclamation mark and still have one of those upside down things Spanishpeople use to make sentences really, really excitable. And a comma. Take that, emo-factions.

Even more importantly, the numbers have gone: ¡Forward, Russia!’s songs now have names.Blimey, we hear you say, it’s all change at the coalface for the battalions of Yorkshire math rock,innit?

A bit, anyway. Kind of. You’d certainly gather few objections by stating that Life Processes doesn’tsound like Give Me A Wall. Because it doesn’t. Except it’s just that it sounds as unlike¡Forward, Russia! as you can sound without sounding just like ¡Forward, Russia!. Frantic, but a bit more judged. Angular, only not quite as sharp. Mathematical, only a little moreorganic.

At times it’s thrilling: the opening Welcome To The Moment (The Rest Of Your Life) and Spring Is ACondition are similar, all tightly bound riffs and fractal patterns of beats. They’re propellent andenergetic, and no end of fun. But it can all get a bit too chaotic. Hell, you wonder if the reasonwhy singer Tom Woodhead wails like a banshee separated from his parents at Disneyland is because hestill doesn’t know what’s coming next, as intricate guitar lines slash past at oblique angles anddrums clatter like an octopus falling down a flight of stairs in some heavy boots.

It’s a problem that the debut suffered from, and for the first half-dozen or so tracks you worry ifLife Processes is going to fall down the same tiring hole. But it doesn’t, and the later half isreally rather spectacularly ace, in an unexpectedly grandiose way.

The same elements exist, but whereas previously they had to be done’n’dusted within a three minutestime frame, here they’re allowed time to grow and expand. It’s a metaphorical step back which letsyou see that the chaos has some degree of order.

Some Buildings goes from from shimmering delicateness to grinding disgust (and back again) likeGodspeed You! Black Emperor holidaying with Trent Reznor, Fosbury In Discontent is abeautifully understated acoustic number and Spanish Triangles is simply the best thing ¡F,R! have ever done.

Because it sounds like they’ve swallowed The Proms. And iLiKETRAiNS. Woodhead standing on apodium, conducting battalions of sound as orchestras swoop and dive and Colonel bass, Commanderdrums and General Whiskas create agit-punk pomp and circumstance. It’s epic, brilliant, and awonderful way to end an album which showcases a vision and a capability we had no idea¡Forward, Russia! had.

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