McCafferty - Forest Life EP
Record Label: Soft Speak Records
Release Date: July 29, 2013
McCafferty are one of those bands that are very easy to fall in love with. Operating within the realms of what I like to call “nerdcore”, McCafferty play simple songs about love, don’t quite understand what production is and create music that sounds like one big chorus. Forest Life is the Ohio one man band (and his two friends)’s fourth EP and is a fresh, ramshackle collection of six indie-dance-acoustic-punk songs which are somewhat in the vein of The Front Bottoms but still have their own distinct take on the genre.
There's something a little bit special about these bands who sound like they're your best friend from high school. Leaving behind any showy, rockstar traits, Hartkop sounds like that kid who was hugely under-appreciated by his peers, but was always a little bit genius. The Forest Life EP continues on where the I Hate My Body demo ended and provides us with some of the catchiest, most likeable songs of the year. Every second of the EP is bursting with enthusiasm, often awkward but always intelligent lyricism and Hartkop's distinct vocals. Starting with the brief, but dryly witty "Jeff", Hartkop inhabits the bodies of the people he's singing about. And whilst they're simple characters - Becky, the post-college girl who's been dumped, being a prime example, that doesn't make them any less easy to relate to. Hartkop's heavy accent and conversational singing vocals deliver these characters in the most accessible way possible.
Whilst McCafferty's low key combination of acoustic guitars, keyboards and loose drumming makes for perfectly dance-y tunes, don't think that this is a throwaway music. "Trees", despite its catchiness and upbeat instrumentation, is a somewhat harrowing account from a young gay man discussing how he can't tell his friends or family. Lines such as "I don't know how God thinks, but God do you love me?" and the eventual break down into Hartkop screaming "I'm such a freak" continuously, are very simple, yet powerful. Key to McCafferty's talent stems from the fact that these songs are poppy and are fun, but still Hartkop displays a great ability to see beyond himself and into the minds of those around him. The EP is filled with great one-liners; “I’ll break my neck for the girl, who I’ve never seen without her clothes” and “Jesus, please forgive me, but I need this body more than you” being some choice ones. It’ll be exciting to see where his lyrical adventures will go next and with an LP coming up, he can only get better.
It’s difficult to think of any proper criticism for McCafferty with Forest Life. For such a young band, both in age and experience, Forest Life is a superb release. There’s very few bands with as much enthusiasm and energy as McCafferty and going forward to the full length will be a very exciting prospect. Sure, the production is non-existent and occasionally things hit sloppy points, but its all part of McCafferty’s charm, it’s music written by the guy who lives next door, for the guy next door and to hell with anyone’s opinions. Give it a few years and McCafferty will be up there with big guns.
This is just about the best EP I've heard since I don't know when. Snakes, Trees, and Floorboards are all candidates for song of the year. Perhaps only bettered by the sheer majesty of Skeleton Bones off of their last EP.