Ask Forest Fire how they fit into the current Brooklyn scene, and they’ll tell you they don’t. Or maybe they will, in a future retrospective. Ask Forest Fire what their latest album, Staring At The X, is about, and they’ll gleefully tell you they can’t. Or maybe they will—by drawing X’s in sharpie on their eyelids.
Well, whatever Forest Fire is or isn’t, the band made one of L Mag Music’s favorite albums of the year. The “Brooklyn” three-piece (they’re actually from a variety of boroughs) received much acclaim for their first home-recorded album, Survival, released in 2008. That was one “made for the fuck of it,” guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Nathan Delff told us. Staring At The X, Forest Fire’s sophomore effort, was released on FatCat Records Oct. 18, but also retains the essential “fuck of it” too, according to frontman and lyricist Mark Thresher.
We get the feeling that Forest Fire has more to say than they let on, but that’s precisely the point. The music balances tense, acoustic intimacy and spacious, melodic shredding, as well as lyrics that read like an existential crisis in spoken word. Contrasting pop and darkness make Staring At The X feel like a soundtrack to the false infinity perceived by a Looney Tunes character in the time it takes to fall off a cliff. At some point, it’s better stop thinking and just listen. Check out our interview with Forest Fire and two stripped-down songs off the album, “The News” and “Blank Appeal,” performed at L Mag headquarters (with bassist Natalie Stormann’s dog, Owen) below.