by Allison Kridle
In Forth Wanderers' 2014 LP Tough Love songwriter and vocalist Ava Trilling expresses in the title track “Selfish”: “I want to be known/As a girl who’s stone cold/Wears her heart on her sleeve/For everyone to need.” Harping guitar riffs nudge this sentiment throughout the album, and is even weaved through the New Jersey quintets entire discography. Their latest self titled LP flows with upbeat and jangly melodies accompanied by themes of self discovery, relationships, and the need to be loved and seen.
Now splitting their time between Ohio and New York City, songwriter and guitarist Ben Guteri and Trilling send their work and ideas back and forth, and then come together with bassist Noah Schifrin and drummer Zach Lorelli to fill in the missing pieces. For a system that might seem distant, everything Forth Wanderers produce is intimate and self-actualized. They explore their own and each other’s minds even from miles away.
The sugary, tooth aching track “Not For Me,” touches on an intimate relationship that Trilling walks out on before she can be seen or read. She sings of her conflict of wanting to be known, but also fearing how she might be interpreted alongside abrupt drumming and twangy plucks. Trilling knows she can’t have the best of both worlds when she croons, “I can’t feel the earth beneath my feet/Flowers bloom but not for me.”
The plight of feeling unknown or misunderstood appears in the album’s title track, “Nevermine” as well. Trilling’s howls call on someone who thought they knew her, but she’s not so sure of the accuracy of each other’s images. She sings, “I don’t think I know who you are anymore/And I don’t think I know who I was before/In my own home I’ve never been more/Unsure, no.” Grappling with one’s identity especially while trying to view the self through someone else’s eyes is a struggle Forth Wanderers bears well. How can someone be yours if they misconstrued you?
Heavy themes aside, Forth Wanderers’ write jubilant melodies that taste like syrup and are just as slick. The song “Saunter,” contains sweet distortion with the most comforting of twangs. The peppy drums leave no white space either. Truly a track that will put you an a good place without being too forceful. Similarly, “Ages Ago,” undulating riffs swell next to an exuberant rhythm, but invite some brief quiet moments to wander wherever you wish.