The Brooklyn indie rockers Forest Fire have been sidling closer to the cosmos with each album, and Screens is their most prolonged and soulful glance into the starry sky yet. The synths billow upward, fat and soft-edged, and beneath them, lead singer Mark Thresher whispers hushed, folky inquisitions into the natural world and his place in it. Screens is an expansive, patient, gentle record, the kind where hooks sharpen slowly out of drifting songs only by accumulation. “Cold Kind” returns repeatedly to a sighed, descending four-note melody, and it’s only by the end of the song’s dilated run-time that it occurs to you: That was the hook.
The song floats on a metronomic drum pulse that could be called “motorik,” if that word didn’t sound too harsh and modern for the album’s pastoral lilt. There is some of kraut rock’s frictionless bliss on Screens — “Fixation,” in particular, with its noodling flute solos and one chord drone. But the album remains pleasantly grounded, thanks to some sharp, winsome psych-pop songwriting, including the loping bass line, chirping organ line and Zombies-style vocal breakdown of “Yellow Roses.” “Sometimes I want to/Disappear,” Thresher muses, before his dissipates into a melting, extended guitar solo, mingling with the organ like fireflies at dusk.