Spontaneity is a trait that all fine artists have, regardless of whether it arises daily or once every few years. Immediately connecting with an emotion, object, or individual is rare enough, so to produce a work of art from it requires the most gifted of abilities. This type of spontaneous chemistry was evident between Deidre Muro and Paul Hammer from the get-go. That the two would conspire to create an epic concept album over the short span of a weekend is indicative enough of their ambitious similarities, but when the two started recording it became apparent that their collaboration was unique. The sessions resulted in The Adventures of Mr Pumpernickel and the Girl with Animals in her Throat, which was a strong debut EP that flashed an act with no frontman or singular creative force. Rather, a true collaboration of sorts was shown in motion that was impressive even without knowing it took only a weekend to accomplish. After that recording session and the subsequent formation of Savoir Adore, the experiment-turned-project began to pick up some buzz around their native Brooklyn. A few notable shows had impressed, as the two multi-instrumentalists always put forth a factor of unpredictability. They share singing and instrumental duties, each doing so in an equal manner that becomes reliant on their two abilities alone. In that case, it is hardly surprising why their new album, In the Wooded Forest, is their best yet.
Following the oddly titled but successful The Adventures of Mr Pumpernickel and the Girl with Animals in her Throat, the success of In the Wooded Forest should have hardly been a surprise to fans. Its predecessor was put out before Savoir Adore even officially formed and it was impressive enough, so one could correctly assume the new effort is one of studied and cumulative experience. The truth is, while The Adventures of Mr Pumpernickel showed their potential, this will be one of those cases where the debut will be overshadowed by a massive follow-up. Sunset Rubdown’s Shut Up I Am Dreaming is a recent example, one where Spencer Krug excelled his blatant talent to dizzying heights over a short span of time. In the Wooded Forest is engaging partly because it shows the development of two songwriters instead of just one. The Adventures of Mr Pumpernickel showed some individual quirks – like Muro’s delicately intricate use of keyboards or Hammer’s impressive rhythmic structures – but In the Wooded Forest expands upon this even further by making their sophisticated songcraft now available in addition to an already-impressive use of keyboards, percussion, and other backing instruments.
While they do occasionally bring out bare accompaniments of keyboards and percussion that is bound to draw up comparisons to The xx and others of that recent mold, Savoir Adore implement more variety in their works even if it sacrifices the accessibility as a result. It is a bit contradictory in saying that because the hooks throughout the album are excellent, but arriving there often takes some interesting maneuvers that prove beneficial despite any initial qualms. “The Scientific Findings of Dr. Rousseau”, for instance, steadily evolves from serene electro-pop minimalism to richly produced indie-rock. Personal tastes may cause some to stop halfway through and others to skip to the halfway point, but those that admire both the attempted styles of electro-pop and generalized alt-rock will find great pleasure here. Identifying the true hooks here is entirely subjective due to the revolving stylistic nature, which is a wonderful attribute of many tracks throughout In the Wooded Forest. Their songwriting now seems inspired by the musical chemistry Muro and Hammer had upon meeting; it is a chemistry which is still kicking and stronger than ever.
More conventional efforts like “We Talk Like Machines” tout clever analogies concerning humanity’s slow descent into automation, all while emitting an amiable sort of indie-rock that resembles more chamber-pop than alt-rock with Muro’s cooing vocals and Hammer’s steady percussion. The guitar work is rarely shown beyond a few repeating chords, but intricacy is not the allure here. As any diligent students of electronic music would do, the marvel here is in the multiple layers of constructing sound. The different tones of guitars clash with synthesizers of a higher pitch to distinguish their masterful overlapping even more prominently, which serves as one example of great production on this album. Concluding moments bring to mind groups like the Postal Service and others that opt for occasional post-rock progressions within accessible indie-rock. The flair of that is added nicely on “We Talk Like Machines” before concluding with a repetition of the chorus. The rest of In the Wooded Forest is much like this, a collection of delightful three-minute efforts that enjoyably sit the fine line between electro-pop and indie-rock. They blend the reverb-filled pop of groups like Beach House and Grizzly Bear with the chilly electro-pop tinge of Air or The xx, resulting in an exceptional debut full-length that may appear as a surprise on many year-end lists.
RIYL: Beach House, Grizzly Bear, The xx, Postal Service, Broken Social Scene, Menomena, Hot Chip, Clues