Navigating the need to grow up on Forth Wanderers' new EP.
Forth Wanderers’ long awaited follow-up to 2014’s Tough Love is a character arc in four parts. What begins as a storm of impatience and insecurity becomes a confident resolution by the final track. Listening to Slop is like watching your favorite character on a TV show finally do something that’s good after stumbling through an entire season. And as usual, it’s the recognizable parts of yourself in the character that make this ending so satisfying. In four distinct tracks, the Montclair, NJ band steers through themes of self-doubt, insecurity, and most evidently, the need to grow up. To call these themes growing pains would be too easy. There seems to be more to Slop than just waiting for the wisdom of a few additional years. If only the passage of time could follow through on its promises of self-awareness!
“Know Better” is the exposition in the narrative of Slop. The song introduces us to the protagonist, as portrayed by singer and lyricist, Ava Trilling, here an energized, though fraught personality filled with uncertainty. This feeling revolves around conflicting needs, “I need to be loved, no—I need to be tough, no—I need to grow up.” Those self-corrective “no’s” carry the full weight of her anxiety. The space between the certainties she longs for and the incoherence of her present feels insurmountable. “Know Better” is followed by the title track, “Slop.” The track begins with a statement of knowledge, but one that only functions as a form of self-deprecation: “I know I’m slow / I’ve been told.” Progress is slow too. In the EP’s first track, the character hopes that “one day I’ll know better,” and by the last it seems like she does.
It’s clear that we’ve witnessed an evolution when Trilling spills the lines, “I’m not yours to play with / I’m not yours to trick.” The difference between this character and the character in “Know Better” is the difference between knowing what you need and worrying about who you need to be for other people. “Unfold” calmly and resolutely arrives at the saga’s finale when Trilling puts her cards on the table, harnessing the kind of measured certainty she spent the album searching for. In the album’s last seconds, she admits “I’m in love with you,” a statement which has little to do with the “you” suggested, and everything to do with the triumph of the “I,” finally able to speak with conviction regardless of the response.
Listen to Forth Wanderers on bandcamp.
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Ana Bauer is a frizzy-haired girl and student at Bard College who tweets from @anadelray when she isn’t talking about Twitter in real life.