Brothers Nick and Will Evans, along with their childhood friend Zach Blount, spent much of their youth writing and playing music together, but when they moved to the university town of Charlottesville Virginia together the trio put their love of music into the band Stray Fossa. After turning their attic into a home music studio the band released several singles and EPs over the last three and half years to the acclaim of the blogging world. When the global pandemic locked the world at home in 2020, the Evans brothers and Blout seized the opportunity to write Stray Fossa’s first full length album. Understandably the record’s themes touch upon feelings of social isolation, dissolution, anxiety, restlessness, interdependence and nostalgia. The trio’s long friendship and music writing partnership also foster a collective memory about these songs which comes from a very personal place to the songwriters.
Album opener “Hypocritic” is a slice of psychedelic indie pop brimming over with an optimistic feel which runs counter to its defiant lyrics. It’s followed by “Bright Ahead” a head bobbing tune that rides a groove reminiscent of the chill-wave scene of a decade ago and is sure to go down well in a live setting. One of the album highlights is “Diving Line” which seamlessly transforms from an acoustic ballad to driving mid tempo pop. It’s cryptic lyrics and edited in film clips make it hard to decipher what exactly it’s all about, but it’s no less sonically impressive. On “How Come” Stray Fossa uses dynamics and arrangements expertly to build a crescendoing refrain that showers you with gorgeous harmonies and oceans of reverb. One of the singles released from the album is “Orange Days” which is carried by it’s memorably infectious refrain. It stands as perhaps the best representative of what With You For Ever is all about, but probably not the best song in this set – that title I’d offer to the next track. Stray Fossa dial up the nostalgia on the breezy dream pop of “Wish I Could Stay”. Everything from the production down to the lyric “say no to drugs” sounds like a throwback to 30 years ago. The moody “Called Away Again” is the calm after the storm, using acoustic instruments and empty space to add more emphasis on the lyrics. Stray Fossa finish strong with “Best Kind Of Moment” and “Something Sound”. The two songs, while stylistically different are possessed by a longing for another time and place. Both have clearer defined vocals in the mix and are carried by melodic bass lines accented with ringing guitar hooks and eerie synths. This is Stray Fossa’s sweet spot where there really find their niche. They have a rhythm section most indie bands would be jealous of and when combined with spaced out guitar and synths Stray Fossa find themselves somewhere between airy dream pop and psychedelic space rock.
For a record recorded in an attic and produced by the band members themselves With You For Ever sounds lush, intricate and meticulously pieced together. As soon as the pandemic ends and shows come back these songs are going to make Stray Fossa a real treat to catch live.