The production on thus fluffy electronic release is fine, but the vocals swiftly undo their modest gains.
Once again, bad vocals criminally sour an otherwise decent electronic album. On their own, the instrumental arrangement skills and studio ideas of Maff and Ned Scott are truly solid. Throughout their third full-length, originally released in 2004, they tastefully beef up their housey electronica with live guitar, bass, and nice sampled horns and strings, sending the listener to a floating digital realm often visited by the likes of Télépopmusik and Zero 7. Hell, the vocals even work fairly well on the lounge downtempo piano cascade "Walk In The Snow", surely the album's strongest and trippiest piece. However, on the opening "Wall" as well as "Nothing" and the title track, Ned's voice regretfully drags otherwise wholesome crackers into the cheese dip.
Even so, the record does carry a few noteworthy moments of greatness. "Always There" sounds almost like a Dangermouse produced Gorillaz single, with a funky rhythm section, spooky synths, and one Frances Ashman doing his best Damon Albarn impression. Despite its nauseatingly atrocious title, "Angel Of My Soul" introduces some light glitches and mauled computer voices to an ambient downtempo jam, while the aforementioned "Walk In The Snow" is an instant classic. The production of Benji Vaughn (Prometheus, Younger Brother) is vibrant and apt. All things considered, though, Forward is simply a few days past its best before date.