Album Review – Rot Forever / Sioux Falls

a3933351475_10This album came out in February, and whilst we rarely go back to albums we missed the first time around, there are a few exceptions. Sioux Falls are one of our exceptions. It didn’t hit many radars in February, although it did get some attention from Consequence of Sound. Often, many bands emerging will lay their influences bare on their first album and then expand from there and that’s the idea you get with Sioux Falls. There’s early Modest Mouse, and Built To Spill all over Rot Forever and while many bands have tried to imitate Isaac Brock’s clumsy but volatile guitar playing or Doug Martsch’s classic-rock-slash-indie-rock, at least Sioux Falls manage to translate it well. They aren’t afraid of extended outros and – Holy Shit – Ben Scott’s drumming is one of the best things you’ll hear all year. To call them a Modest Mouse ripoff would be wrong, but their style and lineup is spookily reminiscent of that scrappy band that first released This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About. At the centre of it all there’s Isaac Eiger, who has the magical qualities of being able to sing in that awkward falsetto that sounds a bit like Rick Maguire of Pile and he can scream too.

‘In Case It Gets Lost’, a mid-album highlight is probably the best example of this. Whereas on the other tracks Sioux Falls decide to extend into 6, 7 or 8 minutes, this is the closest you’ll get to a Sioux Falls hardcore track. It’s a two-minute song, but the speed at which Eiger delivers what he’s saying allows him to spill out more than enough lyrics. Just when it seems that he can’t scream any more, he’ll go another couple of lines. At the end of the track, he descends into a hoarse and breathless sigh. Occasionally his lyrics are anchored to modern life – he mentions wi-fi, spending too much time on the internet and Yelp – but when he’s more vague and direct with them they sting. He doesn’t linger on lines, so something like ‘your mom will stay in bed / for hours her eyes are emptier / than anything you’ve ever seen’ and then the final scream of ‘there is no need to hate yourself
for the failing parts that make you real’. Sioux Falls are like the everymen Modest Mouse for the 21st century, referencing things that will eventually be lost in time, but it’s all on purpose. They’ve made an album that isn’t timeless in its context, but the emotions and feelings that it projects transcend time. Whereas other bands might rely on large concepts and metaphors to express themselves, Sioux Falls embrace the everyday and the mundane.

Let’s not forget this is a debut double album of 72 minutes. Ambitious or too packed? It probably leans on the latter, as some tracks will obviously leap out more than others. They probably could’ve written a tight fifty-minute album – thirty or forty isn’t enough to convey the ideas what they want and they definitely don’t belong in the thirty-minute punk album territory. If anything, they take more from early emo. It’s a dirty word now, but what they’re drawing from is the sensitive emotions it was made famous for. It’s apparent in songs like ‘Copy/Paste’ which has a post-rock crescendo and military drums from Scott. Sioux Falls is made up of three people and for the complexity they’re reaching, a second guitar might eventually have to make its way in, but the band know as well as anyone how useful the bass sounds as a layer to the trebly jangle of Eiger’s guitar. Fred Nixon, their bassist is often the counter to the wild guitar, as a bassist should be. He doesn’t bend to Eiger, he works his own path out and is often responsible for rooting their crescendos into the mammoth wall of sound that they both.

It’s just a stupidly good album and that’s all there is to it really.

Eiger is constantly in fear for the health of his family and the people around him. On ‘In Case It Gets Lost’, it’s his bedridden mother, on ‘If You Let It’, it’s his sister and her ‘asshole boyfriends’, on ‘San Francisco Earthquake’ it’s all his friends getting old and him remembering watching Saddam Hussein get hanged. Eiger establishes the imagery of a tiny dysfunctional community of people, like one of those TV dramas where someone gets murdered and everyone has a secret to hide. No-one gets it worse than Eiger himself though, who criticises ‘putting stock in stupid stuff’, ‘I’m a wreck’ and on the final line of ‘The winner’ he declares ‘I just wanna believe that what I’m doing / means something to someone else / before I die and rot forever’. He explains his inherent need for recognition, whether that is music or something else, you get the idea that he doesn’t care what it is. The title of the album sounds like something that could be a death metal title, but as it turns out that’s Eiger’s biggest fear. And can’t we all relate to wanting to mean something? It doesn’t necessarily mean fame, though that’s an interpretation. It could just mean Eiger’s desire to be loved.

This is an astonishing debut. It might be a few songs too long, but it takes a certain amount of ambition to release a double album for their first go around. Sioux Falls is a fully formed band. They all play excellently and have taken lessons from their predecessors but Ben Scott doesn’t need to take to take lessons anyway, his drumming stands on its own two feet. It’d be hard narrowing down the best moments from Rot Forever, but ‘In Case It Gets Lost’ is astonishingly good, especially the rate at which Eiger spits out his lyrics like a machine-gun whilst keeping up the hardcore instrumentation for a good two minutes. It feels very live, Eiger’s vocals crack and soar all at once and there’s voices in the background. It’s just a stupidly good album and that’s all there is to it really.


Funnel Recommends: 3fast / In Case It Gets Lost / If You Let It