If you’re like me, you haven’t listened to Crooked Fingers in quite a while. You missed their 2005 release Dignity And Shame, all but ignored Red Devil Dawn, and gave Bring On The Snakes a mere two listens. But you thoroughly enjoyed their 2000 self-titled debut thanks to the slow, depressing tunes. If you’re like me, the fact that Forfeit/Foreign was limited to 1000 copies on white vinyl was enough to rekindle the interest in this group.
Listening to the first few tracks of Forfeit/Foreign is like listening to a completely different band — of course, my exposure is limited strictly to the first two releases, but in comparison to early Crooked Fingers, that band no longer exists. Despite lacking even the remotest traces of what initially drew me to this band, I can easily say that Forfeit/Foreign is pretty decent. There’s orchestration here, and multiple vocalists, and the music is animated — “Phony Revolutions” has blaring trumpets and dual male/female vocals.
It’s a bit bizarre; knowing the early Crooked Fingers, whose dramatically lengthy titles included album toppers like “New Drink For The Old Drunk” and “Man Who Died Of Nothing At All”, the group has lost all traces of its former self. No longer are the songs painfully depressing. No longer are they slow and minimal in nature. What once appeared to be an Eric Bachmann (Archers Of Loaf) solo project is now a full-fledged group where female vocals dominate just as much as Bachmann’s, if not more.
And again, I cannot emphasize enough that this album is a masterful work that elevates the group well above their early minimalistic slowcore label. There’s a depth here that wasn’t there before. Even in the softer, slower tunes, like “Let’s Not Pretend (To Be New Men)”, the mixing is phenomenal and one has a hard time believing Bachmann when he croons Let’s not pretend to be new men. No, Bachmann, no pretending is needed. You may not be a new man, but Forfeit/Foreign proves that you lead a new band.
Constant Artists/Red Pig [12″ LP, 2008]
1. What Never Comes
2. Luisa’s Bones
3. Phony Revolutions
4. Give And Be Taken
5. Let’s Not Pretend (To Be New Men)
8. No Me Lo Des
9. Run, Lieutenant, Run
10. Modern Dislocation
11. Your Control