When I first read that Forever Unknown’s new EP was going to be titled Say it Back, my mind went to a trend I’ve seen on Instagram, where people will take a selfie in their stories and then post a prompt that says something like “Good morning say it back.” Then, people will respond with their own selfies and greetings that the original poster then shares. It’s a good way to build camaraderie and spread good cheer relatively quickly.
The second thing that comes to mind when reading this EP’s title is crowd participation at a rock show.
I would argue both contexts are relevant to this EP. This EP is one that will translate to crowd participation well at a show. In my brief interactions with the band and their unending source of moral support Erika Stromsoe, I’ve always gotten a sense of approachability and genuineness – something that is expressed well in the music. It’s not overproduced, and the emotions expressed all occur through this lens of good old garage rock.
This is a release in which the young rock act comes into their own. To be honest though, to call this band a “young rock act” feels a bit patronizing. They don’t need any qualifiers before describing their music. Vocalist Micah Stromsoe-Delorenzo has a way of sneer-singing in the song “Gravity” that seems to drive this point home.
The band really shines on their single “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” which feels like it was transported directly out of my aunt’s vinyl collection back in the 80s into my neighbor’s garage for an impromptu show. My mom’s guilty pleasure is the song “Walk Like an Egyptian,” and while this song doesn’t have any corny dance moves to go along with it, it has a bit of a similar iconic feel to it, I daresay.
The nearly six minute long “The Ballad of Dorothy Hale,” I’ll admit, I was worried I’d be bored by. Which, given the serious topical nature of the song, I’m a little ashamed to type. But the song honors a tough topic with a driving, engaging product that holds my attention and then some. The exhortation of “Dorothy, tell me what’s on your mind” makes me want to seek out the “Dorothy” in my life and just listen to whatever it is that they have to say.
Overall, I’m extremely impressed by the hooks and overall crispness of the EP. The feeling I get listening to this is one of assertion and confidence on a level that’s never been more accessible for the band. Jakob Mooney’s handprints are all over this and he continues to make his mark as a “go to” producer and engineer in Columbus. I’m sad Tuned Up followers didn’t get to experience them live at Steadfast 2020 in person but I’m thinking maybe there will be a way to remedy that soon.
Follow the band on Instagram.