Album review: Snapped Ankles – ‘Forest Of Your Problems’: a terrifically twisted tonal masterclass

The Breakdown

A tonal masterclass and a comprehensive wheelhouse of sound, perfectly envisioning their fantastical lore; a terrifically twisted yet stark reflection of our society
The Leaf Label 9.0

FROM introductory single “I Want My Minutes Back”, the elusively enigmatic Snapped Ankles have spliced musically immediate tracks with impossibly danceworthy drumbeats and equally provocative synth work alongside sprawling, often Krautrock-eking, delightful structures of wild, spontaneous abandon. Their third album, Forest Of Your Problems, expands their ever-growing sonic boundaries into abundantly fertile territory.

As with this sonic expansion, Snapped Ankles’ surroundings have drastically expanded and, elsewhere, fallen into disarray: the relative utopias of previous albums – the ancient woodland they emerged from on debut album, Come Play The Trees and the gentrified East London of Stunning Luxury a distant memory.

The woodwose themselves are similarly disconnected, split into distinct entities – The Business Imp, The Cornucopian, The Nemophile and The Protester – each one imbibing individual traits of the Forest factions. Whilst some seek salvation through wealth and technology, others are well-versed in the prospect of imminent ecological and economic collapse, consuming vegan cookery and extensive international holiday itineraries; a rising group are ready to take to the streets and the trees for immediate change.

The title track boasts dense electronic networks – bass-y tremors, saxophone-esque squawks – that eke technology’s vibrant yet insidiously encroaching domination, magnifying the tension within the woodwose. Built upon mercurial, Can-effusing drumbeats (evoking the band’s Bel Air cover) raining down amid complimentary kraut-acid-rock lashings, the track sparks the ominously engrossing fever the album thrives upon.

“Shifting Basslines of the Cornucopians” epitomises the woodwose’s sardonic, multi-faceted nature, conveyed in the proclamation of “…it’s a great time to be alive/if you’ve got your own hedge fund…”; deep bass ripples and dynamic percussion – a veritable rave of arboreal jouissance – mixed amid an intoxicating aural malady, inhibiting the heady clamour the album is characterised by.

“Sussurations (In the Forest)” – the album’s explorative instrumental – fashions its synth magnitude like spores, diffusing and interspersing with lurid, ominous magnificence. 

Besides this clamouring sensation, the album is countered by the band’s dance-ebullient rhythms and synth dirges, sharper than ever before. Both the irrepressible “Rhythm is our Business” and the wiry fervour of “Psithurythm” lend exorbitant glee; the latter crackling with a galvanic synth riff, bolstered via the band’s post-punk energy – crazily undulating and hypnotic basslines dominating.

The Cornucopian Rough Trade Exclusive

The cerebral, hypnotic fear – enclosing the listener within the ecstasy of the Forest – returns in rich, synth-hedonistic power, best encapsulated by “Xylophobia”. Fitting the track’s title, it’s sprawling seven minutes reverberate a dense, macabre tension, from the plodding bass to the electronic soundscape: theremin-like scores, bright and catchy synth beats, and spiralling synth accoutrements.  Concurrently, the track has profuse amounts of head-nodding trails, especially in the rhythmic elixir dripped from the titular lyric. Hence, the track arises as the most neuron-exciting embodiment of Snapping Ankles yet.

In its conclusion, the album reprises the expansive opener with a melodic, almost Kraftwerk progression that develops the woodwose world through elongated synth notes oozing an optimistic mystique.

Snapping Ankles’ latest marries a tonal masterclass and a comprehensive wheelhouse of sound, perfectly envisioning their fantastical lore; a terrifically twisted yet stark reflection of our society.

Forest of Your Problems is released via The Leaf Label on July 2nd, digitally and on a number of spectacular, woodwose centred variants. Pre-order here.

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