Forgive Durden – Wonderland
Record Label: Fueled By Ramen Records
Release Date: May 9, 2006
The mere mention of indie label Fueled By Ramen instantly seems to polarize people, conjuring up images of pop rock bands that...well...all sound the same. Cobra Starship’s debut album left a bad taste in many mouths. Calling the Cute Is What We Aim For debut “terrible” would be an understatement. The recently signed The Cab showed that they have nothing to offer except a strong desire to capitalize on labelmate Panic! At The Disco’s undeserved success. To see a label that once housed bands like Days Away and Jimmy Eat World in this state would normally be disheartening, but never fear; Forgive Durden is here. Debut album Wonderland, with its mathy instrumentation, scenic lyrics, and approachable pop sensibility, is easily one of the best records that FBR will ever stick their happy-face logo on. And unfortunately, one of the most overlooked.
We are introduced to the dark world that is Wonderland with “Ants!,” sporting a catchy bass line, eventually giving way to Thomas’s slightly hushed vocals over a bouncy electric piano. The chorus, despite being relatively obvious, is a sufficient metaphor for the greed in Wonderland. “Beware The Jubjub Bird...” borrows its name from a Lewis Carroll poem, and like the song before it, shines lyrically. “Ear To Ear” is the most eccentric of the songs on Wonderland, with its frequent Damiera-esque time changes, and the incorporation of a plethora (I love that word) of unconventional instruments. The following song, country-tinged “Parable Of The Sower,” is as unpredictable as it is catchy. The not-so-subtle “Il Tengo Della Signora...” is a tale of sex and lust that also undergoes frequent unpredictable twists and turns. After a 96-second interlude, we are launched into “The Great Affair Is To Move,” which gives Thomas a chance to stretch his range a bit. “Harry Frazee” is rather uninteresting upon first listen, but is truly an album standout. The next song, “For A Dreamer, Night’s The Only Time Of Day,” is fun, poppy, and just plain infectious, but also is hellbent on maintaining Durden’s high lyrical standard.
The final two songs are the slowest on the record, and are downright stunning. The similarities end at the tempo, however. “I’ve Got A Witch Mad At Me” is a beautiful, almost hopeful, song. It’s almost asking “Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?” The last ten seconds, however, scream the answer to that question as “no,” with Thomas pleading “No matter how far we go / There’s no escaping the glow / We’ll take our seats at the throne / Wonderland is now our home.” While it's by no means an incredibly profound lyric, it’s sobering to think that the ugly, greed-filled world that they’ve described is actually ours. The haunting album closer, misleadingly titled “Cue The Sun,” actually shows no sign of sunlight, but predicts that the rain will continue indefinitely. It’s a fitting ending to such a gloomy album.
I know that these days, it’s painfully cliché to end a positive review with “check it out now” or “pick it up.” But it’s simply unavoidable with an album as overlooked and superb as Wonderland. And one of the best things about it is that you don’t have to be a fan of a specific genre to enjoy this album. It’s easy for anyone to get into this stunning debut.
So check it out now.
2. Beware The Jubjub Bird And Shun The Frumious Bandersnatch
3. Ear To Ear
4. Parable Of The Sower
5. Il Tango Della Signora Frencesco Di Bartolommeo Di Zanobi Del Giocono
6. A Dead Person Breathed On Me!
7. The Great Affair Is To Move
8. Harry Frazee And The No No Nanette
9. For A Dreamer, Night’s The Only Time Of Day
10. I’ve Got A Witch Mad At Me And You Could Get Into Trouble
11. Cue The Sun
i really love "for a dreamer..." i really do.
as for the rest of the record... i can't say it lives up.
sheesh, congrats kid, you've convinced me to give this another listen on my way to canada tonight.
ya lil shit.