Music fans, whether critics or consumers, crave the feeling they get when they put on a new record and are absolutely astonished by what they hear. The sounds coming out of the speakers are so fresh that one actually struggles to place the band’s immediate influences. We yearn to be wowed by good music. Originality in the music world is a bit rare in the current indie rock milieu, so we must take note and take heart that there are bands out there that aren’t seeking to recreate hip trends just because they are musically able.
Thus, it was my pleasure to be taken aback by Rewiring The Electric Forest, the impressive and fun new album from Darla Farmer. From the outset of this eleven-song project, the music careens and barrels headlong with giddy abandon, taking the listener along for an exuberant ride, yet the band never becomes unhinged in their performance. Creaky violins merge with a gaggle of bleating horns and an old-school upright piano to the delight of the unrelenting rhythm guitar and plaintive vocals, all while being propelled forward by a hyperactive drummer. It’s as if an indie rock collective decided to get together for a folk-meets-rockabilly hoedown and did so without any irony.
Darla Farmer simply enjoys making music and there’s nothing more enticing to music fans than a band that wears its enthusiasm so eagerly on its sleeve. With the possible exception of “The Strangler Fig,” there are no lame tracks on this great Appalachian folk-swing record. ”Mechanical Thoughts,” “Dirty Keys,” “The Cow That Drank Too Much,” and “Big Accident” showcase the band’s energetic attitude and their penchant for a party by concocting a delightful musical cocktail that calls to mind Cake, Tilly & The Wall, Andrew Bird, and (even!) late-period Calibretto 13.
In the end, what makes Rewiring The Electrical Forest so incredibly enticing is that it displays to the indie rock world how to take the traditional elements of Americana and inject a healthy portion of joy and merriment back into it. Or as a friend recently put it when listening to these songs, “While it sounds like the singer is trying to drown his sorrows with alcohol and song, at least he’s a happy drunk! Who doesn’t like a happy drunk?” And maybe that’s why I enjoyed this album so much: there are too many bands out there using similar instrumentation and stylistic models who sound depressed and/or apocalyptic. Darla Farmer prefers to show people a good time, not the end of the world – and I’m not ready for that event.