posted on March 26, 2008 09:27
Review of The Boggs' album 'Forts'
Review Snapshot: The sound of countless acts flows through the veins of the latest release from sometime Liar Jason Friedman, but no one utilises them in the same inventive way. This is a sonic brew, mixing ingredients of highlights from the last decade of music with the sheer irrepressible energy of The Boggs collective.
The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10
The new rock revolution (TM) which was ushered in at the dawn of the millennium saw some fresh life breathed into a music scene bloated from dining out on unpalatable Nu-Metal. The likes of The Strokes, The White Stripes and their like brought some much needed vitality without doing anything new. As the years have rolled by and The Rapture (sometime tourmates of The Boggs) and Bloc Party have come and gone, it's clear that they're tapping into a period of music (1977-1981) and taking all the style, but none of the substance.
Bands like XTC, Wire and Gang Of Four thrived on having no template to rely upon, but the modern bands have missed this very point. It's fine having influences, but bring something of yourself to the mix. Thankfully The Boggs are around to remind us that creativity is not a concept from a bygone age
Since 2002's 'We Are The Boggs We Are' they've been proving that it's possible to look to the post-punk era, yet turn it into just one component in the sonic soufflé. One listen to 'Forts' will immediately reveal a band in thrall to Wire and their ilk, but as cartographers of The New America (as they modestly bill themselves!) there are any number of things going on at any one time on this album.
He may have relocated to Berlin for a brief period, but Jason Friedman (for he is The Boggs) cannot keep his New York roots under wraps. The finest NY acts - from The Velvet Underground, through to Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo and beyond - have displayed a fiercely independent and creative spirit. So it is too with the Liars associate, who moves through folk, garage, punk and disco over the course of these 13 tracks.
The title track hints at territory previously covered by Radiohead post 'OK Computer', but is completed by vocals from Friedman which sound eerily like the maniacal yelping patented by Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse. The Mouse influence is also evident on 'One Year On', which features a rather lovely vocal from Heather D'Angelo from Au Revoir Simone. Fans of The Rapture may find comfort in the post-punk guitar and thumping rhythm of 'Remember The Orphans' while 'Little Windows' surprises with its unconventional catchiness and tasteful use of trombone/trumpet.
'If We Want, meanwhile,' manages the impressive feat of combining a maelstrom of Nuggets era backing, chanting vocals and a world music beat. But perhaps the album highlight may be 'The Passage' - a borderline dirge which carries guitar work reminiscent of the Redneck Manifesto and is complimented brilliantly by the hushed vocals of Karen Sharky.
Of course few records are flawless and so is the case with 'Forts'. It loses a touch of coherence over the last couple of tracks, with 'So I So You' being a bit throwaway. But The Boggs deserve plaudits for being so risky as to fall flat on their face in the first place. So many bases are covered that some may not totally come off, but the very fact that they show such a huge amount of ambition is to be admired.
To buy a new or (very reasonably priced) 2nd hand copy of this album on Amazon just click here.