On May 26, 2020, Black Dresses broke up. On Valentine’s Day 2021, the pop/noise/metal/indie duo released their comeback (?) album. While they continue to affirm they are “no longer a band,” they decided to “continue putting out music.” And, well, they put out some music.
They put out what is, in my opinion, the album of the year. I simply cannot perceive an album coming out in the next ten months that will top it. Ada Rook and Devi Mccallion fuse more genres, coin more passionate hooks, write catchier chord progressions, experiment further with noise, and feel more vulnerable than any other project in their discography.
Their last full album, Peaceful as Hell, released in April 2020, felt eerily prophetic for the year to come. The album was the band’s mission statement for peace and love in an increasingly chaotic and evil world. Forever in Your Heart continues this creed from the very first track. The album kicks off with a chugging guitar line that just grabs your skull and shakes it into a headbang for three minutes. The chorus blooms into a cry for help, sung beneath soaring synths and above a steady, thrashing guitar. The track ends with both girls asking “can we make something beautiful with no hope?” Yes, Black Dresses, you can.
“Concrete Bubble” turns the aggression up to 11, with Rook screaming her goddamn brains out over heavy guitar leads and a drum that sounds like a sword being forged by the world’s greatest non-binary blacksmith. The track eases up into these bubbly synths and steady beat as Devi proclaims “We’re all on a clear light hell trip/but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try/just don’t come anywhere near me.”
“Bulldozer” is a sexual celebration to soundtrack the grimiest BDSM club in the tri-state. Rooks whispers “my pussy like a-” immediately followed by roaring noise that is nothing short of amazing. “Heaven” seamlessly slides from Devi’s self-deprecating verses to Rook’s idyllic electropop chorus. “Tiny Ball” grows from a lo-fi schoolyard chant to a grooving, rough flourish in a mere two minutes.
The only track remotely close to a dud is “Silver Bells,” only in that it doesn’t hone a strong focus as the rest of the album does. That being said, the song contains some of the album’s catchiest sonic chaos and brings a dumb grin to my face. The opening riff to “Ragequitted” is an instant ear-worm that hasn’t left my brain since I first heard this monster of an album.
“Waiting42morrow” presents the pinnacle of Forever in Your Heart’s prayer for peace. The opening and conclusion track are drowned in this white noise, as if Devi and Rook are submurged in the deepest ocean of cyberspace. And the chorus? If Devi’s choked up “Waiting for tomorrow/waiting for tomorrow/waiting for tomorrow/feeling like sh*t,” riding over pleading electric guitar chords doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, you just don’t have a soul. I don’t make the rules. As we’ve all been stuck in our homes, sheltering from a virus, oppression, and climate change, this song is nothing but a melancholic 2020 rallying cry.
“We’ll Figure it Out” is a frustrated rager on our species’ uncanny knack of passing the torch of imperialism, environmental destruction, and violence onto the next generation. The chugging guitars and one-two, one-two percussion sounds like an army of gen x-ers marching on the necks of future generations.
Which brings us to the darkest leg of the album. “Understanding” sounds like a demented Mac Quayle soundtrack with some of the darkest and most detailed lyrics on the album:
“I tried to understand why it happened like that
But it just made my soul break down
I didn’t want things to go like that
For a while I was confused
But now I think I understand”
“Perfect Teeth” and “Zero Ultra” are the harshest cuts on this album, with more pleads for understanding and healing in the world. Admittedly, Black Dresses are pretty one-track thematically, but man do they know how to cover this topic.
“Mistake” is a lo-fi, easy-going breather before the album’s closer. It feels as if Devi is reaching some sort of closure or acceptance with what she’s gone through as she performs this soft ballad.
The album ends with “(Can’t) Keep it Together,” a last triumphant call that is tinged with hope. The song contains electric and acoustic guitar leads, echoed vocal leads, drums, soaked in distortion, and a synth straight out of I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me).
This album is wonderful. It’s blood-curdling. It’s beautiful. It’s sad, hopeful, anxious, and every other conceivable motion. But I think the best words to sum up the experience of this Forever in Your Heart is its final line “it’s not so bad.” Thank you, Black Dresses. Can’t wait to hear from you again.