Contemporary American indie folk has become an overgrown forest of haunting melodies: too many weeping willows and too few steady pines. No one’s chaining themselves to those rotting logs, that’s for damn sure. The woods could use a little clearing.
Luckily, quiet folksy quartet Husky hails from Australia, a country blessedly spared from the burden of acoustic supersaturation. That’s not to say, however, that Aussie acts are stereotypically run-of-the-mill. Indeed, Husky is a perfect band to rep the land down under because their sound is as variegated as the landscape. Forever So, the band’s debut, impresses in its ability to assimilate current folk nuances and replicate them with dazzling precision.
Beginning with rustic hymn “Tidal Wave,” Forever So launches into a large and leafy program equal parts Fleet Foxes and The Shins – organic and sonically gorgeous without any reverberated church-hall pomp. It’s ruminative but not morose, bright but not peppy. And perhaps most importantly, it grooves. The tribal rhythms of “Fake Mustache” (accentuated by cowbell and chirpy keyboards) bark more like ‘60s twinkle pop than modern folk. Yes, there’s a track called “The Woods,” but the helium-high vocals are closer to past ghosts Simon and Garfunkel than anything particularly contemporary.
Husky has captured the most visceral aspects of great folk — wraithlike voices, brooding drum accompaniment, plucky strings — and created a shimmering sea of reflectivity. Forever So has enough clear-eyed goodness (“How Do You Feel,” “History’s Door”) to complement the occasional gloomy grime, making it utterly typical and superbly inspired. What it lacks in innovation it rewards with familiarity. As a bonus, the album-closing handsome suite “Farewell (In 3 Parts)” alleviates all the pain. It sounds like Jose Gonzalez’s “Heartbeats” slowed down and pulled like taffy until it reaches the right consistency. “Farewell” will leave you teary, achy and safely nestled down by the fire, not lost in the woods, and for that, Forever So leaves its mark as a stunning debut.
(Sub Pop Records, 2013 4th Ave 3rd Floor, Seattle, WA 98121)