What does Endless Forms sound like?
Dream pop with an extra slice of chamber rock.
The review of Endless Forms – The House of Love
Justin Allen approached his new album ‘The House of Love’ with a different view of love. What happens after the initial sparks have faded? How do you transition from that initial butterfly moment to sustaining a long-term relationship? It is that transition that Justin aka Endless Forms digs into and he does it both lyrically and musically.
The album itself has two distinct sounds. The vast majority of the album sits in the dream pop space. Tracks like ‘A Door That Disappears’ live and breathe with epic smudged guitars, resonant piano chords and reverb-drenched vocals. Both tender and expansive, there is a lovely duality between how dramatic and intimate the music sounds at times. There is more than a nod towards bands like Depeche Mode and Thompson Twins but with some modern instrumentation. Tracks like ‘Into The Swarm’ embrace the electronic side of 80s new wave but with today’s electronic beats. Fresh but familiar.
Where the album likes to play most is transitioning from that dream pop world into something more chamber rock sounding. By that I mean we have big guitar drives over piano pop sentiments. The title track fits this mold perfectly even though Justin is performing a guttural roar in the chorus. Along comes dulcimer-style synths that add a chamber sensibility. Elsewhere ‘Riding the Red Horse’ is a galloping uptempo pop rock number nudging towards Coldplay sounds, whereas ‘I Want It All’ takes those beats and adds a raucous guitar solo outro to it. The heavy synth hues wash out the track to keep it dreamy but there is a full-bodied rhythm and bass throughout. Then there are the two ethereal anthems of ‘Makes Me Feel Too Much’ and its part 2 counterpart. It’s the same song structure but one runs at a much faster, bombastic tempo than the other.
Throughout all of this Endless Forms is busy balancing a transition from one genre to another. Be it dream pop to chamber rock, or piano pop to shoegaze – there is almost always movement. Part of the transition is a handful of short ambient synth pieces that help the album keep moving. There is never a moment of silence as the album can be played a 40-minute continuous movement. Whilst these don’t stand out on their own, they are beautiful moments of reflection when playing the album as a whole. They also help the emotional ethereal synth, piano and vocal ballad ‘Love Without Loss’ feel much more at home too. The centrepiece of the album is ‘I Needed to Find a Fire’. This six-minute track takes the entire gambit of the album into its arms and nurtures it into a colossal anthem. The extended instrumental outro feels so earned and cathartic as if two lovers were setting off on their journey together. They are uncertain where the road will take them but they are taking a brave step. That personifies the album for me. Not all stories are happy endings but they all involve someone being brave.
‘The House of Love’ is all about the moments in between one moment and the next. Lyrically and musically every song is in a pendulum swing and it is a very clever album to listen to. Whilst some tracks may not be as impactful as standalone songs, together as a body of work this album tells an excellent story. It’s great to see the art of an album arc has not died in 2023. Long may Endless Forms explore it as this is a hidden gem.
Recommended track: I Want It All
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