At first listen, ¡Forward, Russia!’s sophomore record “Life Processes” seems… a little out there. But then again, the tracks have titles that are words rather than numbers. That, among other things shows the maturity the Leeds, UK group has developed since their 2006 debut. And working with producer Matt Bayles, whose previous projects included The Blood Brothers and Minus The Bear, only accelerated it.
“Life Processes” is dramatic and unique. Driving melodies and math-rock rhythms found throughout drive the musical complexity of the group and the album. Ominous, choppy hardcore guitar (“Gravity and Heat”) can quickly and suddenly morph into gentle vocals washing over a slow piano line (“Fosbury in Discontent”).
The maelstrom of sound behind vocalist and keyboardist Tom Woodhead isolates the piercing clarity of his voice. When he shoots into falsetto, Only rarely will he allow himself to dip into the frenzy, but when he does the raw desperation is poetic.
Their sound is one thing, fairly easy to understand and enjoy, but the themes are something else entirely.
The lyrics can seem nonsensical and disconnected at times, but when taken in context of the song and album as a whole, are impressive. As a concept album describing the facets of life — from fear to love to hate to confusion to acceptance — "Life Processes" has a literary quality and tries to be exactly as it's named.
Though it takes some effort to truly appreciate and understand the album, that shouldn’t scare you away — ¡Forward, Russia! is a band you can throw on and lose yourself in without a struggle.