It's nice to be reminded of the Velvet Underground's Loaded, and that happens for a few moments on Trés Fort, the new album by Madison duo Treefort. Not that Elsa Nekola and Wes Doyle (who also makes music as Slow Loris) make any grand gestures as they move through various modes of friendly guitar pop, sometimes with a little, but just a little, extra post-punk kick.
The songs keep it short and humble, so it's refreshing when the duo take some extra time on songs like "Once and Always." Doyle and Nekola juggle drums, guitars, bass and keys. Instead of trying to test their guitar-solo talents on the instrumental breaks, they find a new hook or two, sometimes hitting rhythms that recall the Velvets' "Rock & Roll." And why not, if perfectly good bands like the Black Angels and Disappears can so blatantly reference White Light/White Heat?
Nekola's vocal may at first sound fashionably languid, but give it a moment. The melody on the chorus brings out how good-natured Treefort really is, recalling the pleasant way that vocals hang back and swell up on a good shoegaze song. Instead of big, glittery distortion and heaps of echo, there's a modest amount of reverb on everything, including Nekola's voice and Doyle's clean, deliberate guitar leads. If Trés Fort has a gentle feel overall, it betrays a feisty heart in these moments.
Nekola says she and Doyle might not be able to assemble a live version of Treefort until summer. For now, Trés Fort is available as a free Bandcamp download, and Treefort will also be putting out a small run of purple cassette copies.
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