It took the Lonely Forest a couple of albums to hit their stride, but they hit it in a big way with Arrows, which delivered earnest, searching indie rock that didn't take itself too seriously. The band keeps it up on Adding Up the Wasted Hours, thanks to assists from Washington State indie luminaries like Karl Blau and Chris Walla, whose production adds an expansive sheen that stops just short of slick. The lush keyboards and guitars on "Pull the Pin and Forget" add a depth that evokes Death Cab for Cutie's early days, and suggests that the Lonely Forest could have a similarly wide audience. Like that band and fellow Washingtonians Modest Mouse, the Lonely Forest excel at making songs that are equally intimate and anthemic. John Van Deusen's lyrics are a big part of this, whether they're detailing life's small joys, as on "Lovric's" ("I'm so happy going nowhere with you"), or its heartbreaks, as on "Last Time" ("It was the last time I said your name"). Sung in his reedy tenor, his words are a lightning rod that helps the Lonely Forest channel hopes, fears, and dreams even more potently than they did on Arrows. Not surprisingly, Adding Up the Wasted Hours' best moments are the ones that build most directly on their last album; "Fire-Breather" and the title track make the most of the band's unflagging idealism and quirky romantic gestures. When they branch out with "Neon Never Changes"' moody electronics or the psychedelic swirl of "The Stars, Like Dust," they maintain their down-to-earth charm even if the results aren't as immediate. Another step forward, Adding Up the Wasted Hours reaffirms that the Lonely Forest are worthy heirs to the traditions of Pacific Northwest indie rock.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares