thoughts on: the lonely forest’s “adding up the wasted hours”

Adding Up The Wasted Hours

I figured it was about time that I put down about my thoughts on the new album from The Lonely Forest, Adding Up The Wasted Hours, which comes out in just under a week (10/8/13) in less than two weeks (10/15/13). AUTWH has been my most anticipated album release for a good long while, ever since the band announced that it was in progress, though from the sounds of it, it has felt even longer for the band themselves. Thankfully, it is now a thing that is real, and will be available on a record store shelf or delivered as beams of electricity through the wires running around your house very soon.

Their most recent release, 2011’s Arrows, has easily been one of my most-played albums ever, and it’s only been out for a little over two years. I’m not kidding when I say that I’ve played that album at least once a week since it came out, and it would probably be more accurate to assume closer to two to three times a week. It’s an incredible album with infectious pop-rock melodies and a charming sound that somehow doesn’t get old. It was my favorite album of 2011, and probably even my favorite album in 2012. So it’s no surprise that I had very high hopes and expectations for what the guys would bring to the table for the new record.

The first times I heard some of the new songs from the album were from various videos shot on phones at some of the later shows on the Arrows tour – songs like “Fire Breather” and “Left Hand Man” and “Last Time”. The songs are just as melodic, infectious, and huge as so many of their songs before, but they have an element of depth that makes some of the songs on Arrows look simple by comparison.

That is not to say that I like Arrows any less – I don’t. But in listening to Adding Up The Wasted Hours, it is clear that everything that comes with two plus years of touring and toil has injected itself into every nook and cranny of the songs.

(The following is a track-by-track with thoughts on the album.)

From the very first seconds of the album, there’s an unmistakable sense of urgency. “Pull the Pin” starts out with an almost dizzying call and response of guitars, as John Van Deusen sings about soaring high above the waves, and letting go for a minute.

How come the sum of my best doesn’t fly with the rest?

Lovric’s”, after the drydock of the same in the band’s hometown of Anacortes, WA, continues the water imagery that is found all over the album, while touching on the downside of being on the road so often (revisited heavily in the album’s title track). “Fire Breather” and “Left Hand Man” flawlessly capture the energy that was so present in the earlier live versions of the songs, with guitarist Tony Ruland’s floating guitar flourishes showing up in full force. “Fire Breather” is easily one of the highlights of the record – the huge refrain absolutely delivers.

Neon Never Changes” is an absolute treat – a departure from the more standard pop/rock jams, the song focuses around echoing synth and a distorted beat, and contains some of my favorite imagery on the record. I’m excited to see how it’ll translate to a live setting. “Last Time” is the first song I heard in a live form from the new record, and the one that kickstarted my anticipation. As John has described it at shows, it’s an “overly dramatic breakup song”, with Bradyn Krueger’s drumming really showing off as it carries the verses along.

The title track is probably the centerpiece of the record, in terms of content. As I mentioned earlier, it flawlessly encompasses the entire theme of the record: the struggle of being a band, on the road, away from the ones you care about for months at a time. As the bridge comes to an end, the song transforms into a charming, sing-along style finale. It always gets me.

And what I wouldn’t give to sleep in my bed

(I’m adding up the wasted hours away)

Soundings in Fathoms” probably packs in the most lyrical imagery (more water!) but in a way that feels natural and almost effortless. Eric Sturgeon really carries this one on the bass – when it comes in after a break at the start of the second verse, it’s really all you can pay attention to. “Lavender Dress” is a dreamy, short (seriously), and sweet little tune on acoustic guitar that flows into “Warm/Happy”, the lead single off the album, which feels like a sort of homecoming. Each member of the band gets to show off – John’s vocals are impossible not to sing-along to, Bradyn’s drums keep you tapping your feet, Eric’s bass drives through the refrain (with some wonderful flair in the bridge), and Tony’s guitar reminds you of your actual homecoming – effortlessly emulating the soaring hooks of a John Hughes film staple. I was honestly surprised to hear this kind of sound when I first heard the single, but shortly after I just wanted more.

Finally comes the epic conclusion, “Stars Like Dust”, immediately showing off John’s lower range, which we rarely get to hear. It’s strikingly pensive – thematically the darkest on the record, and it captures a feeling of helplessness that is instantly relatable.

When I awake my my lungs inflate with morning air

I’m powerless in time, ferociously aware

With every breath I’m inching closer to an end

I’ve got open arms – won’t you help me comprehend?

The song comes to a grand finale, with horns(!) and an actual sing-along, almost reminiscent of Death Cab for Cutie’s “Transatlanticism”. The final line repeats eleven times, as drums and horns and screams and noise in general grow to a final height, before quickly dying off. It’s a monumental end to a monumental album – summarily symbolic of the struggles endured along the way, with a sense of hopefulness for what comes next.

And whatever that “next” may be, it’s clear that The Lonely Forest are capable and ready to face it head on, and deliver what they’ve proven is their standard: an absolute masterpiece.


Adding Up The Wasted Hours is out 10/15 on Trans-/Chop Shop Records.