Genres: indie rock, indie pop
Words On Music
715 University Ave SE #201
Sep 26 - Oct 3 2004
Echelons, For Against's debut album, was originally
released in 1987 on Independent Project Records. Seventeen years
down the line, they're celebrating its reissue on the
Minneapolis-based Words On Music label, following a 2002 release of
their well-received sixth album, Coalesced. Right on the
first listen, it's easy to recognize the era Echelons was recorded in - this
is pure eighties, and comparisons to Joy Division, REM,
and New Order are appropriate if not customary.
The For Against sound is relatively easy to describe - the
trio sets up an instrumental backing - guitar, bass, keyboard, and
percussion - over which Jeffrey Runnings sings. The
combination is very Joy Division-esque - tragically hopeful
vocals are mixed with foreboding, intense instrumental parts.
The singing, as a result, seems somewhat detached from the rest of the
music. Though the songs sound simple - their choruses
repetitive, winding - they are very thought-out and detailed.
Basslines throb, waves of guitar crash about, and synths add layers of
detail to the mix - I've heard this many times before, but every time
it's different. Understand?
"Shine" and "Echelons" are two of this album's
best songs - the former is a movingly uplifting track with shimmering
layers of echoing guitar leading the processions, while the brooding
title-track boasts the album's best chorus. The seven minute
"Broke My Back," which closes Echelons, is also a
particularly inspired moment - although some may find it a bit too
long for its own good. Many of the other songs would be
considered classics on other albums, but are victims of this record's
Given all the amazing records that came out in the eighties, it's
easy to understand why Echelons
is often overlooked. Words On Music hopes this reissue will
enlighten a few souls who never picked up on how influential early For
Against material really was. I say they've found a winner.
9 tracks, distributed by the
label, originally released 1987; reissued 2004]