Field Guides

Boo, Forever

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Curated by the advertent mind of singer/songwriter Benedict Kupstas comes Boo, Forever, the debut LP by his Brooklyn indie combo Field Guides. A slowly unfurling pastiche of treated guitars, skittering rhythms, folk instruments, and field recordings, the music plays out like thoughtful musings in a Moleskine diary complete with sketches, philosophies, and to-do lists. Though only seven songs long, four of those clock in at over five minutes, often meandering their way through multiple sections, managing to feel both meticulously composed and improvised at the same time. What's apparent from the opening volley of bird calls and accordion drone is that Boo, Forever is a deeply personal work, and to make any sense of it the listener will have to conform to the album and not the other way around. There are elements of warm indie pop in some of the sweet melodies that develop on tracks like "Lorrie Moore" and "Jon Says," but by and large the album presents a more difficult listen and it works best as a long-player from stem to stern. Vocal time is split between Kupstas' weary croon and dueling female counterparts Madeline Caldwell and Alena Spanger, with the three of them often switching leads back and forth or harmonizing within each song. The descriptive lyrics often pit human foibles against the natural world with frequent references to animals. On the slow-burning charmer "I Wish All Our Hands," Kupstas retreats from a frustrating relationship, wishing friendship was as simple as the affections of cats. It's a nice sentiment and a warm centerpiece to an album that, like some cats, can be a bit hard to get to know. Like some sort of artful natural history diorama, it occasionally feels like a meticulously arranged jumble of neat ideas, but repeated listens reveal a more intimate and ultimately rewarding collection.

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