Washington quartet The Lonely Forest has been releasing music for six years, but has remained fairly obscure until now. For their third album, Arrows, the Anacortes rockers have the honor of being the first signee to Warner Musics Independent Label Groups Trans, a label started by Death Cab for Cuties Chris Walla, who also produced the album. Completing the endorsement trifecta is a support slot on their upcoming tour.
On Arrows, The Lonely Forest makes forthright, guitar-driven pop with indie rock leanings. Most of the songs are on the lively, anthemic power pop side, with some heartfelt ballads such as the closing title track and opener Be Everything. Actually, their sound can be summed up simply as straightforward. This is not necessarily a fault, because simplicity and immediacy can be used to create something remarkable as often as the complex and slow-burning. Their up-frontness also takes the tradition of revealing song titles to a new level that should be cringe-inducing but is actually charming.
Unfortunately, for all its sincerity, Arrows misses the mark more often than not. (I Am) The Love Skeptic and (I Am) The Love Addict epitomize the missed opportunity of The Lonely Forest. The two songs offer both sides of the love existence coin, but are too predictable musically and lyrically to yield anything that separates the band from the increasingly lengthy list of similar artists. Although it has its catchy and affecting moments, Arrows is both largely lacking power to the vocal melodies and without hooks that actually, well, hook. Listeners would do well to follow the advice of the albums second track and Turn Off This Song And Go Outside.