Though it’s not, necessarily, a bad thing, Forever For Now is a little bit relentless as 11 of its 12 tracks overflow with dance beats that pulse and drive underneath LP’s thoroughly formidable voice. Hers, though, is a different kind of vocal prowess than many pop lovers are used to. LP’s pipes are big in terms of the tension she creates rather than in the histrionics she undertakes. Her voice is theatrical in its substance, more than in its style. To be sure, she wields and winds that voice carefully around these songs and, when she does cut loose — and she does — it’s a controlled cutting meant to serve the melody or the meaning. Think of LP as more of an opera singer than a pop vocalist, and you’ll be on the right track.
From the top on down, the intent of Forever For Now is perfectly clear: fun. This is one big, good time broken into 12 melodically succinct, percussively infectious packages. And LP sketches out just enough in the lyrics to establish a framework, but not enough so that listeners can’t interpolate themselves into the scenes. That’s Pop Music 101, right there, and LP has passed with flying colors.
Most of the album’s cuts were crafted with either Billy Steinberg (of “Like a Virgin” and “True Colors” fame) or Isabella Summers (of Florence and the Machine renown) and LP shape-shifts herself to fit her co-writers’ various styles. Once the production is applied over the top, though, the cohesiveness of the broader piece feels very much like LP — equal parts brash and baroque.
The four tracks that comprise Forever For Now’s first third are all worthy contenders for the album’s highlights reel. “Heavenly Light” and “Night Like This” prime the well with beats and bangs that must make producer Rob Cavallo very proud. Then, in a bit of a surprise, the chorus harmonies and synth ramp-up to the bridge on “One Last Mistake” riff mightily on Fleetwood Mac, but feel more like a wink and a nod than a thieving.
Fourth up, but certainly one of the album’s brightest spots, “Tokyo Sunrise,” is a perfect example of LP’s signature wail tilting over into a sense-stirring vibrato. Three tunes later, “Free to Love” pays its own homage to the early U2 guitar sounds that are so closely identified with the Edge that he probably should have trademarked them. The anthemic melody, too, wouldn’t be out of place in Bono’s hands, like “Beautiful Day” or “Elevation” before it, but LP does it up just fine.
The second half of the record offers more of the same and it’s all good, just not as good. That is, until “Into the Wild”’s number is called. Even casual fans will be enamored, if not familiar, with that one. For whatever sequencing reason, LP and Cavallo saved “Into the Wild” and the album’s title cut, her two eerily impressive whistling songs, for the last two slots on the record. After 11 installments of the above-noted “fun,” closing out the cycle with the hushed “Forever For Now” allows listeners to catch their breath as they reflect back on the good time ride they just took.
This article originally appeared on PopMatters.