Lesbian’s Forestelevision Riff Raff Vines
Capsule review: The first time I listened to Seattle doom quartet Lesbian’s third album, Forestelevision, I paused it halfway to watch Riff Raff Vines. Yes, Riff Raff throwing mangos out of a car, gawking at overpriced sneakers, and dancing to Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” were all more interesting.
Now the longer review, somewhat truer to the album’s length.
Subsequent listens managed to carry my attention the whole way through, which for an album comprised of a 44-minute track, is enough of a task. There are compelling elements here and there, but overall, Forestelevsion slogs. Strangely, the sluggishness comes not from the album’s crawl, but from being too tightly wound. Lesbian feel like a band that really wants to cut loose and motherinventing FREAK OUT! but feel uncomfortable doing so. Just when something neat comes around, Lesbian cut it off too soon. 14:13 features some fist-raising lead work that’s gone far too soon. Just after the 26 minute mark, there’s some Dave Chandler-esque wah tantrums. One of the records more interesting moments comes at 23:23, where Lesbian goes full-on blackened doom. Sounds like they’ve been holding jam sessions with Barghest. 37:30 kicks off some Kylesa worship for a brief spell. Nothing really sustains itself, so as a result, the record as a whole becomes a chore to get through. Music shouldn’t feel like a job – what’s the point? The wind-down at the end might be the best part of the album.
The synths, in particular, feel under-appreciated. Forestelevision begins with a warm glowing drone, as if they’re to capitalize on the hype from Boards of Canada’s new record Tomorrow’s Harvest. They’re quickly drowned out by guitars. By 2:30, it’s funeral doom with a Krautrock flavor. Synths bubble up throughout, but only to give a background texture. Organ protrudes around 16:20, and it certainly didn’t overstay its welcome. Funeral doom vibes come back just before the twenty minute mark, and with the double bass, it makes for a clashing vibe. With a band like Pinkish Black taking out the guitar and using synths as the main rhythmic catalyst, being wallpaper just isn’t good enough anymore. Maybe Lesbian should recruit Daron Beck for the next record. (While guitarist Arran Emory McInnis does synths on Forestelevision, drummer Benjamin Paul Thomas-Kennedy has an electronic solo project called (blouse)USA. Strong hints as to where Lesbian could take its own direction with these majestic sounds.)
Arik Roper’s cover artwork is a wonderful piece of lush greenery, but Forestelevision feels like a lost weekend in the woods. No map, no compass, no plan, no provisions. Go watch some Riff Raff Vines for 44 minutes.