Review: Forth Wanderers' "Slop"
Not all who wander are lost. Originally from Montclair, New Jersey, rock band Forth Wanderers have built a presence in the DIY indie music scene ever since the 2013 release of Mahogany, their first EP. One year later, they solidified their emotionally-charged-yet-melancholy musical style with the 2014 release of Tough Love, a follow-up LP. Now, after two years of writing and work, the band is back.
Their latest is Slop, released November 11. Slop reflects the band’s musical and personal growth over their collective high school to college transition, with their youngest member and lead singer, Ava Trilling, having only graduated from high school this past June. Released through Father/Daughter Records in the US and House Anxiety/Marathon Artists in Europe, Slop is sure to help solidify Forth Wanderers’ place in the indie music world.
Spread across various colleges around the country, the members of Forth Wanderers typically met on school breaks to write music and tour. While the band may be young, their unique sound has made an impression on the world at large – Forth Wanderers has been featured on Noisey, The Fader, Stereogum, and NPR Music, among others. As testament to the band’s growing fame, Forth Wanderers took a mid-semester break of their own to tour along the East Coast before the Slop release concert in New York City.
Slop is Forth Wanderers in top form. While their music may be understated, it certainly lives up to the hype. Lead guitarist Ben Guterl’s repeating chords provide a brooding backdrop for Trilling’s somewhat monotone yet expressive vocals, creating an atmosphere of angst and boredom all at once that perfectly describes the feeling of suburban youth. Their lyrics only add to the experience, referencing deeply-relatable topics like heartbreak, loneliness, and existential conflict. The title track on Slop starts out with a slow and ringing guitar melody that is quickly joined by Trilling’s vocals. Lines like “I love too much to hurt this bad/ oh and I have too much to be this sad” share an intimate look into the yearning and heartache of young love.
“Nerves” follows with a heavier guitar line and equally-expressive lyrics. Under a guitar melody, Trilling sings out, “I wish I’d wake up and sigh and realize I’m wasting all my time.” Meanwhile, “Know Better” is slightly more upbeat; with a faster guitar melody and more prominent percussion, the song describes the moment when you meet a fellow lonely soul while still struggling to move on from an ex. While Forth Wanderers’ lyrics often focus on the struggles of love and solitude, Slop also provides themes of defiance, growth, and hope for the future. “Know Better” highlights this as Trilling croons, “I can’t be this naive, I hope I’ll know better.” The EP ends on this note as well with the final track, “Unfold,” offering lyrics such as “I won’t do what I’m told, help me unfold, I need to unfold.”
Forth Wanderers’ music is far from upbeat pop. Yet, while it may not be uplifting or even particularly happy, there is a certain draw to the sound of Trilling’s mellow voice and the feelings of desire, pain, and raw emotion that she expresses. After all, who hasn’t experienced those moments of heartbreak and uncertainty that Slop so poignantly evokes? If you’re seeking out spectacular new indie rock, wander no further.