Around this time last year, I heard some folks talking up the Lonely Forest’s debut album, Arrows. Since Amazon had (and still has!) the promotional track from the album (“Coyote”) available as a free download, I decided to investigate. Upon further review, I was extremely unimpressed. Nevertheless, when I became a Spotify user later that summer, I added the album to a playlist that I kept in heavy rotation to discover great new stuff. Surprisingly, the album grew on me, in large part because I quickly found that “Coyote” was the worst track on the album.
Now I’m not sure what the optimal strategy is for releasing promo tracks, but I do know that if it weren’t for the low barrier to discovery that Spotify provides and the several good reviews that I saw the album getting, I would have passed on these guys altogether. Instead, they ended up with one of my top albums of the year. Ironically, the Gang Gang Dance album that was one of my two favorite albums of 2011 suffered from the same (relatively) bad introduction, as my least favorite bit of that album was also a promo track. I think the lesson here is that if you want to grab listeners’ attention, make sure you’re putting your best foot forward. For the Lonely Forest, “We Sing In Time” is one of a few tracks that’ll get the job done.