The Forecast – Everybody Left
As car windows start rolling down in time for the change in seasons, The Forecast prepare to unleash their 4th LP, Everybody Left, on April 17th, and the timing couldn’t be better. Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, the band not only reached its goal of raising $8,000 in a short period of time, they surpassed it by almost 50%, getting close to $12,000 in backing support. This feat gave them the financial backing needed to record and produce another outstanding record comprised of melodic, anthemic, hook-laden indie pop rock songs, which the Springfield, IL quartet has built its reputation on.
The album opens with the title track, “Everybody Left”, and it is instantly clear that the Forecast have picked up right where they left off on their self titled 3rd LP. Similar to self titled opener “Losers”, one of my personal favorite songs by the band, “Everybody Left” begins with clean acoustic sounding guitar strums, as Dustin sings “So it seems, that everybody left….” in a melancholy heartfelt tone. What differentiates this opener from “Losers”, however, is the build up and transition into a full band explosion of jangly pop nostalgia, with a sing along hook and melody that immediately brightens the mood of the album. With a lyrical hook that that will be stuck in your head for weeks, Dustin Addis (guitar/ lead vocals) and Shannon Burns (bass/2nd vocals) harmonize together perfectly over a layer of crisp guitar chimes, as they sing the chorus “So let’s dance our way around the lake tonight. We will use the time to make it all feel right”.
The second track, which many heard in advance on the bands Facebook page, titled “Clear Eye, Full Hearts”, opens with a bouncy distortion drenched guitar groove that fans of the Forecast will certainly be nodding their heads to. The chiming guitar riff that starts the first verse is reminiscent of later period Starting Line, and once again, Dustin and Shannon compliment each other perfectly while trading off vocal parts and singing jointly with each melodic harmony throughout the song.
This trend continues throughout the record, and by the second listen, I found myself already memorizing a good portion of the lyrics as I sang along to the verse and choruses of each and every track. Driving melodies, jangly pop guitar layers and heartfelt dual vocal delivery hearken back to late 90s mid western emo rock and power pop, with a more polished and accessible take on it. It amazes me this band isn’t bigger than they are, given their knack for writing emotive, upbeat and melodic sing along hooks comes so naturally. Everybody Left never lets up, delivering one monster pop hook after the next, without sounding trite. At the same time, the band still find a way to mix up tempos, change moods, vary the guitar tones and energy level, while remaining consistent throughout, and without sounding monotonous. This characteristic is especially exemplified in songs like “Sing it Out”, one of the stand out tracks on the record. When they do slow it down on songs like “Skipping Stones”, the Forecast deliver sincere Americana indie rock, with a twangy southern vibe, and ballad like effect.
Although the heart of their sound still mostly channels Midwestern indie rock/emo pop punk, the band manages to incorporate mainstream pop rock influences like Third Eye Blind and the Goo Goo Dolls in “Like A Habit”, allowing this record to appeal to a broader fan base. However, in the nature of staying true to form, fans of Hey Mercedes, Motion City Soundtrack and The Anniversary will all find something to love on this record, as these band’s similarities are also present throughout the course of the record.
One of the most unexpected highlights on Everybody Left is Track 8, “Take Me Down”, the only track where Shannon takes over lead vocal duties, and Dustin serves as back up vocalist. Normally I am not one for female fronted music, but in this case, Shannon’s voice fits the mood and tone of the song perfectly. The song is full of energy and emotion, and is clearly a level above other female fronted pop punk acts of this genre.
And on the closing track “Last Stand”, the band delivers one of its most powerful moments yet, when Dustin and Shannon jointly sing in harmony over a layer of twinkling guitars “….these lights, on the skyline, are hard to come by. These nights, on the long drives, make up for lost time.” This moment plays perfect tribute to Clarity era Jimmy Eat World musical styling, and is a throwback to the heartfelt emotionally driven indie/emo rock of the late 90s.
All in all, although The Forecast have not grown much musically since their last effort, they have still put together a consistent follow up; one that remains true to their greatest strengths as song writers. Again, they have created a confident pop record that is perfect for the spring mood, and an album that should please old fans while helping them gain plenty of new ones. Please pick up this album on April 17th, so the Forecast finally get the recognition they’ve worked so hard to achieve. You won’t be disappointed!
RIYL: Hey Mercedes, The Anniversary, Jimmy Eat World, Motion City Soundtrack— Jason Gordon, 04/13/2012