The Lowdown: After two EP releases and their 2018 full-length debut, When I Think of You in a Castle, Chicago’s Post Animal have finally found their own brand of psych-rock, but not without the courage to lean. Forward Motion Godyssey stands both as the band’s first release as a five-piece and as a testament to the group’s ability to convey the complexity and subtlety of twentysomething life without taking themselves too seriously in the process. What gives Post Animal this upper hand is the closeness of the bandmates. Trapped in a house in Big Sky, Montana, for over a week, bassist and vocalist Dalton Allison, guitarist and keyboardist Jake Hirshland, guitarists Javi Reyes and Matt Williams, and drummer Wesley Toledo sat down to pump out an 11-track album that refuses to fit into one mold.
The Good: More than anything, Forward Motion Godyssey finds Post Animal in a more assured place than at the release of When I Think of You… The album showcases the band’s growth, not only as bandmates and songwriters, but in their subject matter. This lyrical growth often takes place on the album in the form of asking questions — about themselves, about existence, and what it means to live in a world that sometimes seems to be working against you. From open-ended queries (“How do you feel?/ Would it ever be enough?”) to more in-depth contemplations (“If life is change and change is hard/ Will patience be what’s living?”), Post Animal worked to overcome the occasional filler lyrics on their last release and, along the way, found a way to express their vulnerability without compromising their playfulness.
Musically, the album succeeds in several ways. The lighter songs on the album, the pop-inspired “Schedule” and the dancey, house-inspired “Safe or Not”, shine brightest when Allison’s vocals combine with glittery synth and sugary guitars. Some of the heavier moments of the album, such as the multi-act, larger-than-life “Fitness” and the big guitar melodies of “In a Paradise”, showcase the band’s dedication to evolving their sound, usually within a single song. The album reaches its peak with “How Do You Feel?”, a song (dare I say a ballad?) that feels both hopeful and like a letdown at the same time. It sounds like it’s waiting for something, yet it finds the time to groove. It builds itself up, erupting into one of the sexiest guitar moments on the whole album. Together, all of these moments challenge the overall pace of the album, and each song lends something different.
The Bad: Although the evolving pace of the songs often contributes to the success of the album, it also plays a role in some of the more underdeveloped parts of the record. At times, the genre changing works less in the album’s favor, instead making it seem like Forward Motion Godyssey can’t decide what it wants to be. Alongside this, the album does have a few forgettable moments, such as the overly metaphoric “Private Shield”. While the album has infinitely more high notes than low, the subtle uncertainty present throughout various moments of the almost hour-long album are evident. Though these moments don’t overshadow the best of Forward Motion Godyssey, they do provide the band with room for growth.
The Verdict: Forward Motion Godyssey finds Post Animal challenging and growing upon their last album in all the best ways. With more complex and emotionally reflective lyrics, more genre-bending and pace-changing, the album finds the band carving their own place in the modern psych-rock landscape. Post Animal have managed to find a sound much more their own — both momentous and giddy, contemporary and sentimental.
Essential Tracks: “How Do You Feel?”, “Safe or Not”, and “Schedule”