Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Near the very end of "We Sing In Time," Lonely Forest lead singer John Van Deusen launches the refrain, which is also the title of the song, in an emphasized screech that sends some plaster cracking off the ceiling and falling to the floor. It would have peaked out and turned ears distorted red and bloody if we didn't have the gates set appropriately. It's one of those parts in a song that feels completely caught up in the moment, as if he surprised himself with the eruption. It was one of those things, however, that you halfway expected out of him at some point though. It's the spelling of a nervous energy that bubbles in Van Deusen and gives all of the words that he sings these pangs of hurt and these degrees of desperation that he might not have known he was feeling until he started writing them, or until he started singing them. It could just be that when he got to the time when he was to sing, "We sing in time," there at the end of the song, he was unaware that it was going to happen, but once it did, boy did it ever feel like the right way to feel, right then and there.
Lonely Forest songs are conscientious of the pains that they're living with, even though life has been short so far. "Turn Off This Song And Go Outside," a song that appears on the Washington state band's debut EP and its recent full-length, admonishes us to stop listening to this particular song and to get out there into the world to find someone to love. The song will remain where it was when you left it. It's not a person. It's barely a real thing. You should come back to it though and don't pay it too much mind for the time being. There's better stuff out there and a few silly little verses and some repeated choruses. It's the position that Van Deusen, guitarist Tony Ruland, bassist Eric Sturgeon and drummer Braydn Krueger take with most of the songs off of "Arrows," where there's hope that the things that are important to care about are made obvious enough. They get the screeches and they get the thundering hearts - which pound through many of the moments here.
Van Deusen, who occasionally sounds like a less subversive, more targeted and less abstract Michael Stipe, insists upon finding and diving into the crazy sport of love, even though it can get messy. He seems to believe in the re-do, or perhaps it's better to look at the belief as something we could chalk up to getting to do everything in pencil, with a giant pink eraser handy. We can keep going forward, no matter how many steps are being taken backward. He sings, "Let's pretend we've got it together/Let's ignore the coming sun." Then there's the idea in "We Sing In Time," that feels like destiny and fate, the rolling course of the clock and our wrinkling skin, can be halted with a little fairy dust, from parts unknown. "In time, the trees die and light will fade/But I hope for a new breath/A new life to take me away." We're not sure where that new place might be, but it's probably quieter for a while and then we'd be willing to suppose that we'd need that eraser, we'd need to remind ourselves to get outside and find love and we'd probably need to screech even more. We'd be stuck in the repeat, but at the time, it sure did seem like the pretty thing to wish on.