Is it fair to judge Husky’s Forever So based on the first two seconds of the lead track? Of course not. But from the moment those gentle, acoustic, Fleet Foxes harmonies swoop in, it’s over. After many repeated listens, the album ends just as it began, with a band that can harmonize, sing on pitch, play piano, drums, guitar, and bass, all in time, and still bring nothing to the table. The group, headed by vocalist/guitarist Husky Gawenda, is more than capable of performing their tasks. The empty feeling that emits from such tasks is why Husky’s Forever So is so disappointing.
With all the YouTubes and Bandcamps, anyone can post music online these days. Every blue moon, this process launches an artist into the blogosphere. Unfortunately, more often than not, pale imitators emerge — like Husky. On later track, “Don’t Tell Your Mother”, the band echoes a cabin-dwelling Vampire Weekend, if only Ezra Koenig soaked his vocals in morphine. Even the flighty rhythm of a stronger track like “The Woods” leaves an aftertaste of something else, like The Shins, or Fleet Foxes, or even an act as distant as Travis.
In other instances, the music is simplistic without strong enough lyrics to overcome it. Take “Dark Sea”, for instance, with the lyrics, “We were once just children staring up at the stars/ When did we grow older and come so very far?” With little originality and weak songwriting, the most beautiful track on the record is titled “Instrumental”, clocking in at under a minute.
Perhaps closing track, “Farewell (In 3 Parts)”, wouldn’t be so disappointing if it lived up to its name. Musical precedent for songs titled as such include Pink Floyd’s “Echoes”– which could have been called “Echoes (In 17 Parts)”– or Frank Ocean’s recent, much-heralded “Pyramids”, a.k.a. “Pyramids (In 2 Parts)”. Husky’s final track is partitioned into a harmonious “woo-woo” followed by a concluding trumpet. These are arrangements, not parts, and there’s not even a discernible third.
The old saying, “There’s some kid picking up a guitar out there for the first time” rings more true by the day. Anyone can be a star, truly talented or not, and it’s not just reality TV, YouTube, and boredom that’s responsible. Husky’s Forever So represents the latest in a sea of bands that, despite being able to perform and harmonize, should just go the route of talented session players and backing bands; artists with plenty to play, but not much to say.
Essential Tracks: “Instrumental”