I was familiar with many of the demos that ¡Forward, Russia! had released prior to this album, so I knew what I was getting when I bought it, but the album did still come with a few surprises.
The offbeat drumming and dodgy time signatures are what make this band unique in so many ways, and are present in most of their tracks. Russia are not heavy, but they are loud and erratic, if you don't like music in that mould then you won't like this band, it's something of a tolerance or an acquired taste.
The best tracks are Thirteen, Twelve, Nine, both parts of Fifteen and the closer, Eleven. All are distinguishable and different in their own way, and you have to give them the credit they deserve for making this the case with what is so often an exhausted and saturated genre. Their live performances are also excellent and usually intimate.
The faults are that firstly, my favourite track, Fourteen, isn't on the album. More of a personal complaint I know, but then also there's the fact that the demos sounded much better for some reason. Evidence for this is that if you download the demo of Thirteen and compare it to the album version, the album version seems a bit lifeless in parts, the drums are muffled a bit and there just seems to be less bite in quite a few other tracks too. You get used to this, but it might be worth investigating the demos too to see what I mean.
Minor faults aside, this is a solid debut album from one of the most interesting bands in Britain. Of course, if you're a fan you already knew this, if you're not.. try before you buy because this is not an average British Indie band, and is one that has polarised opinions in many ways.
Finally, I'd like to point out that ¡Forward, Russia! is pronounced Forward Russia. The ¡ is an upside-down ! and not an i as some people have been thinking...