Nearly four years after their debut album, Icarus, the Forms return with the far superior self-titled follow-up. Again working with Steve Albini, the Brooklyn-based quartet moves far beyond the chilly, slightly pretentious post-rock of 2003's Icarus. The Forms is much more song-based and melodic than its sketchier predecessor, with a new emphasis on structure and tunes. The album is still a moody and impressionistic affair that favors sensuality over literal meaning -- lead singer Alex Tween's vocals are buried so deep in the mix he often might as well not be singing in English -- but songs like "Transmission," "Getting It Back," and "Knowledge in Hand" are far easier to grasp than anything on the Forms' debut. Even the less direct material, like "Focus" and "Oberlin," two brief songs that are more like evocative soundscapes than fully fleshed-out pop songs, feels more precisely put together. Experimental without losing its accessibility, The Forms is an excellent example of how to make a smart, compelling indie rock album without getting lost in the weeds of artsy meaninglessness.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason