When Chicago's Post Animal made their full-length debut in 2018, it was with an eclectic set of hard-rockin' riffs, tight prog-inspired runs, wistful indie pop refrains, and a warm, affectionate tone that made them lovable through moments of dramatic, "Bohemian Rhapsody"-like bombast. That debut, When I Think of You in a Castle, was produced by the band, and they keep things in-house for the follow-up, Forward Motion Godyssey. It was produced by bassist and founding member Dalton Allison with help from Castle co-mixer Adam Thein. (Fans may want to note that guitarist/singer Joe Keery left the band following the debut to pursue acting opportunities stemming from his role on Netflix's Stranger Things.) If there's anything surprising about the remaining five-piece's second outing, it's that instead of homing in on a sound, they return with more of their oddball, freewheeling mix of styles ranging from classic metal, prog, and psych-rock to a seemingly contrarian indie soft rock. Examples of the latter can be heard on the mid-tempo "Schedule" and, to a lesser degree, "Safe or Not," two synth-aided tunes with a focus on treble clef. But first, they establish their metal chops on the imposing "Post Animal" and launch the record with the trippy, meandering "Your Life Away" ("Don't give your whole life away"). It languidly ponders: "Life's a lot of sleeping, though/I'll get some problems resolved in my dreams." The album on the whole is more contemplative, even on dirtier tracks like "In a Paradise," which philosophizes "We are all just waiting in a line/Forming thoughts we think would never occur to them" alongside low, churning guitars, cowbell-type cymbal pings, and engine-dwelling effects. All told, Forward Motion Godyssey isn't quite as much fun as Post Animal's debut, but they still deliver that characteristic warmth as well as uncommonly sharp hooks, fills, and theatrics of a nature that should delight air guitarists and drummers everywhere.
© Marcy Donelson /TiVo