Release Date: Jul 10, 2012
Record label: Sub Pop
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Folk
With all the indie folk-pop bands extant today, it can be a challenge not to feel the market has become oversaturated. So many seem content not to contest, or outright play up to, the clichéd trope of the sensitive dude with an acoustic guitar who fashions himself a coffeehouse troubadour. It’s understandable why this pitfall is so often succumbed to, as finding the innovation and originality to avoid it is no easy task.
Someone named Josephine is haunting Forever So, the debut LP from Australian indie folk four-piece Husky. "Josephine, I don't love her anymore," frontman Husky Gawenda sings on "Don't Tell Your Mother"; later, on "Farewell (in 3 Parts)", he sings, "there was a lot we didn't say, wasn't there, Josephine?" The rest of their story is told in fits and starts throughout Forever So; there's the three weeks spent in the motel by the sea, an unforeseen overnighter in a bus stop, the river in the woods where Gawenda washed away his sins. These vivid scenes and impressionistic details make for a surprisingly lifelike portrait of a love gone south, even as it poses as many questions as it answers.
Review Summary: An interesting plunge into indie-folk’s experimental regions – one, however, that ends up feeling lost instead of resolute. Forever So is kind of a double edged sword – on one hand, it is a refreshingly ambitious debut that bodes well for Husky’s future, but on the other hand it doesn’t seem to say very much throughout its elaborate composition. The balladry is rustic in a Fleet Foxes type of way, and it sways, skips, and meanders without the slightest hint of deliberation.
I contemplated the angle to take when writing this review whilst at work. To earn my crust I work in Retail Security, an ideal job for a daydreamer. Whilst considering the legacy of Sub Pop, the record label which signed Husky, my thoughts were rudely interrupted by a radio call. A banned shoplifter was in the food hall, and needed to be ejected.
With Forever So, Australian indie folk quartet Husky present a collection of labored-over tunes, full of heart-on-the-sleeve sentiments and the combination of doe-eyed wonder and log-cabin existentialism that defines so much of the subsect of indie-based acoustic rock that followed freak folk. Opening with the softly building "Tidal Wave," Husky layer acoustic guitars, organs, shimmering electric guitar flourishes, and an ever-so-slightly psychedelic breakdown, resulting in the same kind of soul-searching arc Fleet Foxes regularly achieve, only minus that group's signature spot-on harmonies. Many of the album's 13 tracks follow closely in the footsteps of an already established act, with nods to Bon Iver, Grizzly Bear, and Midlake, and the entire album brims over with woodsy imagery and vague allusions to storms on the open sea, late-night city scenes, and uneasy emotional partings.
Is it fair to judge Husky’s Forever So based on the first two seconds of the lead track? Of course not. But from the moment those gentle, acoustic, Fleet Foxes harmonies swoop in, it’s over. After many repeated listens, the album ends just as it began, with a band that can harmonize, sing on pitch, play piano, drums, guitar, and bass, all in time, and still bring nothing to the table.
Melbourne quartet Husky are the first-ever Australian signing to Sup Pop Records, and being first at something means you must be pretty good. They’ve also supported current Oz pop flavour of the month Goyte and performed at SXSW 2012 already, so there’s a lot of buzz going into their first series of shows in the UK in May, which include a stop at the Great Escape. There is a dusky, yet slight rough and tumble quality to their brand of folk rock described by Rolling Stone as “Nick Drake-esque fairytale delivered with full indie-orchestration”.