Not quite the flower-child drum-circle that its title implies, Be Forest’s Earthbeat feels more like a blend of ’90s alternative and contemporary indie rock than anything else– as if The Cranberries were reincarnated for a new life in California. Their guitars ring shrill in the high end and come down to meet steady basslines in the low end, driven by nearly tribal percussion, upholstered in satin vocals and blankets of synth harmony to flesh out the sound.
The dynamic is fairly standard-issue Stateside, especially now that a culture of hip with corresponding scene has pervaded nearly every major American city from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon. What may come as a surprise is that Be Forest is about as far removed from any of this as a band could get. Hailing from the small Italian town of Pesaro, these kids are a welcome reminder that there is a whole wide world across the pond, and it’s not all so different as it may seem. Blame globalization.
Earthbeat opens on a note that’s more Boards of Canada than anything else, a reverberating heartbeat from the drums, along with computerized clicks and ambient guitar melodies for days. That doesn’t last long, however, and the catchy Siouxie-esque “Lost Boy” drops the sleepy chillwave front altogether. “Airwaves,” another driving rock track, brings a bit more depth and intensity into the sound, while still making sure to avoid any sharp edges. Sonically impressive without sounding overproduced, the band gives an interesting outside perspective on a style of rock that often seems to be losing steam.
Unfortunately, at some point in the album, Earthbeat ceases to distinguish itself and starts to fade into sameness. Be Forest has a tight sound that comes across clear as a bell, but there’s not enough variety to keep one song from bleeding into the next. Upbeat moments like “Lost Boy” find the band at their strongest, yet they haven’t quite managed to keep that freshness running through the whole LP. They’ll learn. After all, they’re still just kids.