The shimmering lead track to New York City indie rockers Forest Fire’s forthcoming third album, Screens – titled “Waiting in the Night” — sounds like a hazy daydream, with its gently strummed guitars, heavy drums and frontman Mark Thresher’s nearly just-below-the-surface whispers. But it’s a bit more than a daydream — it’s a state of mind. “It’s a song about that sick feeling you get after too many consecutive late nights,” he tells Hive. Then he drives it home: “You love that feeling.”
In the larger context of the album, which features a rejiggered lineup of musicians and contains 10 tracks of murky indie-pop, he quizzically describes the song as “candy,” meaning it was easy to write and record but maybe also reflecting its party-sugar-coma vibe. And he says that his engineer employed a secret weapon, that aligns with his and his bandmates’ analog-purist leanings, to create its fuzzy appeal. “Jonathan Schenke, who recorded Screens, used this amazing AMS DMX Delay on the vocals for this song,” Thresher says. “It’s the Martin Hannett–Joy Division delay.”
When Hive points out that the song’s vintage-delayed vocals seem to be pushed so far back in the mix you have to strain your ears to make out the words, the singer asserts that that was sort of the point. “There’s a lyric in one of our new songs called ‘Passengers’ that goes, ‘They listen, but not very closely, and mostly they don’t,’” he explains. “That line has a double meaning for me. On one hand, it’s about some old friends of mine. But it’s also about the way I’ve noticed some people treating music these days.”
In a way, he’s made it a challenge for listeners to sink into the song and, as he said before, “love that feeling.” But in a larger way, it’s a testament to Thresher’s own confidence, something that echoes throughout the rest of Screens. And, as is obvious in the way the synths and guitars play off each other so well in “Waiting in the Night,” that is a credit to his new lineup and the way they work together. “On the new record they really put me in my place,” he jokes. “I feel all better now.”
Screens is out September 10 on Fat Cat.