¡Forward, Russia! is a very cerebral band. Its breakthrough album, Give Me a Wall, featuring wiry post-punk songs with numbers for track names, caused a minor sensation in the U.K. Its follow-up, Life Processes, is also cerebral, but this time it's to a fault. Although Give Me a Wall used grit and wit to claw its way to being a surprise success, Life Processes sees a band trying to up the stakes to no avail. Rather than sounding like the next Bloc Party, ¡Forward, Russia! ends up sounding like a post-hardcore knockoff.
The only major innovation of Life Processes is that the songs now have names. This gives the band the aura of "maturing," but innovation comes from more than just thinking of titles. Musically, the songs are all same-sounding, but with a monotony that goes deeper than a song-by-song basis. Whiskas' guitar seem to be on the same note for 52 minutes straight, and the rhythm duo of Rob Canning (bass) and Katie Nicholls (drums) sound particularly repetitive and uninspired.
As a vocalist, Tom Woodhead is stuck on the high notes, almost never wavering except for the occasional scream. His vocals also use one of the more annoying pop post-hardcore trends of having the lyrical flow not sync properly with the rest of the song. For lyrics that seem crapped out, that only hurts Life Processes.
A couple of moments are cool -- the seamless transition to hard rock guitars in "Gravity and Heat," the intimacy of closer "Spanish Triangles." But there's not much else worth hearing on Life Processes. For an album featuring themes of the emptiness of thoughts, motivation and emotion, ¡Forward, Russia! seemed to know what they were talking about, albeit unintentionally.