Brooklyn duo No Swoon return today with ‘Forward’, the second single from their forthcoming self-titled record. Formed primarily around two opposing synths, the first is acid tinged, slinking around corners with its snake-like groove, the second is discordant, a sledgehammer taken to a brittle window. Together they sound almost seedy, granting listeners access to a Great Gatsby-like bash. Hosting these proceedings is Tasha Abbott, though her lyrics about apathetic responses to the climate crisis suggest she didn’t get the memo, “Is the ice really splitting? / Are the ceilings getting smaller? Couldn’t notice through these headlines”. The rich and famous attendees suffer a mood kill, but ironically it’s them she’s targeting with her icy, effortless vocal; those who through bluffer and bluster state we’re making progress, drawing instant parallels to Anohni who sang “it’s only four degrees”, taking aim at those trying to dismiss the temperature rise.
In the chorus she sings “moving forward”, her hollow words suggesting the opposite. The soundscape dramatically shifts here, from nightclub sheen to Beach House-ian shimmer, the reverb heavy guitars mirroring that other duo’s (Beach House) ability to summon rainstorms with their instruments. The song capitulates into dust after one final ‘ah’, the uncomfortable silence we’re served, perhaps reflective of the minimal affect we’re having on reversing climate change, a drop in the ocean, a band-aid applied to an ever growing wound.
Speaking about the song, they say: “You know when you’re talking to someone about how fucked the world is (in many ways) right now and they say “but it’s better than it used to be, we’ve come so far!” I hate that, “we’ve come so far,” it’s such a cop-out. Sure we’ve made progress, some things are better than before and some things aren’t. It doesn’t mean that racism, sexism, homophobia, abuse (the list goes on), doesn’t exist today or that climate change isn’t a real threat to the world. And if that all still exists, we still have work to do. And that’s what this song, “Forward” stems from. That cop-out of an idea that things are better and great. “Are the clouds really breaking, or merely moving over?” Meaning are we really making progress or is whatever problem just shifting, either to someone else, or in a different form.”