Not to say the man who brought you the Archers' seminal '90s college-rock album Icky Mettle is retreading his own slacker past, but it is surprising to hear Forfeit's opener, "What Never Comes," sounding like a mash-up between David Bowie's "Heroes" and a never-written OMD '80s classic. Elsewhere on Forfeit, the danceable "Phony Revolutions" is suspiciously reminiscent of ABBA's "Money, Money, Money." And while this is Bachman's most bombastic and marketable collection of songs yet, he's chosen the most DIY methods of distribution, forgoing the release of a physical jewel-case version of Forfeit in all but a few independent U.S. retailers, otherwise directing fans to a digital version through iTunes or CrookedFingers.com.
Other highlights include a stop in Tucson to record the duet "Your Control" with Neko Case, which recalls the best moments of R.E.M.'s Out of Time; DeVotchKa's Tom Hagerman adds a waltzing string section in a Denver studio; and Brian Kotzur of the Silver Jews meets up with Bachmann in Nashville, adding yet another layer to Forfeit's intriguing scrapbook.