Ptarmigan | The Forest Darling (s/r)

The group breaks the mold of what you’d expect from a three-minute pop song by twisting and turning through hip-bending hooks and heart-warming verses.

 

Midwest indie-rockers Ptarmigan continue to evolve their sound with their latest offering, The Forest Darling. The group’s sophomore effort combines the treble-laden guitars and raucousness from their debut album with a slightly tender sheen that brings together something completely fresh for the group.

The Forest Darling features songwriting that’s intensely versatile and uncommonly mature. The group breaks the mold of what you’d expect from a three-minute pop song by twisting and turning through hip-bending hooks and heart-warming verses. The songs masterfully dive into meandering bridges, only to powerfully land into a comfortable hook. Their start-and-stop then twist-and-turn songwriting is highlighted on the mid-album track “We, The Forest,” where lead singer Evan Walton takes a backing role to bassist Peter Marting’s wistful croons. Crunchy guitars abruptly come in and out then swell into the next chorus, while Walton’s soft vocals glisten above the fray.

The group splits the vocal duties more so than on their previous record. The always-compelling Walton still commands the majority of the work, with his cautiously impulsive style drenched in reverb and delay. Marting’s vocals perfectly complement Walten’s fragile delivery. Imagine an inebriated Appalachian and a debonair jazz crooner mated to produce a wonderful combination of gristle and silk. During the album’s closer "Metronome," Marting spits forth a daring verse from a volatile libido, and then strings you along like a doting pre-teen with a tender chorus.

Ptarmigan isn’t what you’d expect from a Midwest indie-pop trio, they are much, much more. If you’re among the uninitiated, I strongly recommend The Forest Darling as one of the finest opportunities to get acquainted with a gem of the genre. A | Glen Elkins

 

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