Every few years a band or artist materializes seemingly from nowhere, their vison fully formed, their cultural impact profound. The Strokes happened like that. So did Kanye West. Hearing Is This It? or The College Dropout was like seeing Pulp Fiction or Trainspotting for the first time: visceral, intense, totally now. You knew you were participating in an important moment. Charting the evolution and arrival of Forgotten Species, however, is more like watching Kieslowski’s Three Colors Trilogy: Tea bags will be steeped, people will gaze vacantly into the middle distance, little will happen. And it will take fucking forever.
Formed in 1998 by Lizz Kannenberg, Chris Dandino, Matt Zemburski and Blake Smith, Forgotten Species recorded a few demos on a four track, then went on hiatus as Matt took a job as an orderly in a mental institution and Blake’s other band (the poorly named Fig Dish) signed a major label deal only to spend the next several years in a van eating at various Taco Bells around the U.S. and amassing sales figures in the lower five digit region. That band broke up after they rolled said van in a blizzard, liberally scattering Nachos Supreme over a stretch of Interstate 80 in darkest Nebraska.
A pattern was established: Demos cut in 2002 were shelved while Blake’s band Caviar demolished the coffers of yet another major label and Nixon moved to LA, presumably for the sushi; the 2009 sessions were filed under someone’s bed while Blake fiddled with synths in electro-rock outfit The Prairie Cartel and Lizz spent her milk money on a graduate degree in an obsolete field.
Slow forward to 2015, when January doldrums shook Forgotten Species out of hibernation. But instead of the usual beers-and-GBV and YLT-covers hang outs, this time there was palpable energy around a new batch of songs. They recorded an EP, Hades Fades, largely in Blake’s basement. A shimmering haze of pop melodies and smeared guitars, the EP garnered the group some local interest and regional independent radio attention. This time the band stuck to getting together once a week, even persevering through a “redecoration” of the practice space by their stoner metal band roommates.
Instead of the usual routine of recording in a dank and vile basement, they called up their old friend Andy Gerber at Chicago’s Million Yen studio and booked two days. Something about this time felt different.
The resulting music is different, too. Gone are the reverby muck and endless pedal chains of previous recordings. Lead tracks “Dead Cologne” and “Aperture” exude the confidence and self-awareness of a band that embraces its glacial evolution and long teeth and proudly displays its disdain for trends, blogs, Spotify spikes and influencers. Fucking influencers.
Packaged together with the nearly as life-changing “Boots All Summer,” “High on Stress” and “Negative in Furz”, as 2017’s Demon Lemon EP, what remains is a sound, and a band, that knows what it is: Aging hipsters making three listen indie rock in a one listen world.