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When Arc The Forest’s new EP landed in my inbox it came with a footnote that read, “We hope you enjoy the places it may take you.” At the end of the 6 tracks that sentence was less of a footnote and more of a disclaimer, after having bawled my eyes out over several instances.
The cold-coloured artwork sets the tone before you’ve even pressed play. Thematically, the EP deals with the ups and downs of the human condition – the progression from adolescence to adulthood (‘/ [forward slash]’), the narrow-mindedness of society (‘Bones’) and the universal truth of how difficult it is to let yourself love and be loved (‘The Dip’).
The coming-of-age theme is also perfectly encapsulated in ‘Brainfreeze’, a track about a casual sex tryst that has developed into something a bit more. Vocalist Duval Geddie’s timbre is light and his high register airy as he tries, unconvincingly, to convince both parties that nothing’s going to change. Spoiler: it always ends appallingly. The last minute of ‘Bones’ is a similar lyrical frustration made manifest as the instrumentation gets more and more furious and then ends abruptly. In this regards, there’s a Civil Twilight-like quality to the way they layer their grandiose tracks.
‘Abandoned’ is undoubtedly the track that will provide the most talking points. Dealing directly with the issue of how LGBTQI communities are viewed and treated by religion it asks, why would something that feels so right be considered wrong? “Stop and stare / For you are alone in this world / Abandoned by chance and creation,” Geddie coos quietly. There’s a sincerity about how they write and deal with such sensitive subject matter that’s only really matched by lo-ghost at the moment.
And after this EP has torn your precarious emotional state to shreds, closing track ‘Warriors’ places a hand under your chin to lift it upwards, telling you that it’s okay to fall. The most important thing is that you get up. Now pass me the goddam Twinsaver.
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Listen to the album on Apple Music.