Looking back on it, I guess the title should have been a good indication of what to expect from the newest Big Pink album, but it wasn’t until I had to spend what seemed like unending amounts of time with Future This that I finally figured it out. The Big Pink apparently think that the future is, like, really futuristic. They want listeners to think they’re cool dudes, and that their music is accessible and fun.
In reality though, in the present time, Future This is a colossal mess of ideas and sounds. The band skips from some sort of retro hip-hop homage on “Give it Up” to ‘80s new wave rip off on “Jump Music.” Not only are most of these moments pulled off in a melodically mediocre fashion, it’s the dishonest nature that arises from such a strange cross-section of influences. If you’re passionate about a specific era of music and want to pay tribute to that through your current outlet, then I’m all for that. But the way in which The Big Pink feel stuck between all these areas, all the while attempting to make thinly veiled Top 40 hits, is rather dishonest and distasteful. There were moments on the band’s previous album, A Brief History of Love, where this sort of identity crisis was apparent. “Dominos” obviously had that smash hit sort of cache to it, while “Velvet” was more the indie single everybody fell in love with. But both tracks, and the entire album, followed a pattern and sound that was believable. And, in the end, the album was enjoyable and successful. Future This merely grasps at the proverbial straws that continue to dangle from the success of “Dominos.”
Even within the tracks themselves, the band appears bored and rushed. Take the album’s opening track for instance; “Stay Gold” begins with the industrial, hissing noise that The Big Pink have become quite associated with, mix in a strong bass kick and for about thirty seconds the concept seems interesting. But it sounds like a well-written, thought-out piece of music for the those thirty seconds, as right after that the band races into the chorus, filled with keyboards, crashes and desperate-sounding vocal screams. It’s a case of too much too soon. There’s no exposition, no tease, no suspense. But most of all, there’s no heart. “Stay Gold” is lifeless and loud, a brash and ironic statement about modern culture. Except they were trying to be ironic. And the rest of the album carries on similarly to this. Piles of noise forced through various filters, a boring process with a boring result. Which is a shame, because A Brief History of Love was a good album, and showed promise for a band destined to eventually break through to more mainstream followers.
In the end, however, Future This is stuck in some kind of awful, awful limbo between Robert Smith-less Cure and hyperbolic electro dance music. Not only have The Big Pink alienated their previous audience, but they’ve managed to lose any possible wider appeal on this album. I don’t usually write reviews as a way to guide a buying decision, but in the case of Future This, I suggest you heed my advice.
Plugging away since 1999, The National finally hit mainstream success with the release of their 2010 album High Violet. Of course, this entailed their first world tour, but in the new documentary Mistaken For Strangers, it’s only the backdrop for the relationship between lead singer Matt Berninger and his younger brother Tom, who had no idea that these short videos he was shooting would turn into a public document of their troubled, if still loving brotherhood.
We talk with Israeli rockers Vaadat Charigim about some of their favorite records.
We talk with Yvonne Ambree and Jesse Barnes of Take Berlin about some of the records which influenced the recording of their debut EP, Lionize.
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