I am not sure whether it’s politically correct to call an album “anthemic” in the indie world. Perhaps it’s too close a description of arena rock, an antithesis to the exclusivity that the excluders like to define as “indie.” So when I say that The Big Pinks’ Future This is anthemic, I want to make it clear that I mean it in the least offensive sense of the word.
Future This, a follow up to 2005’s A Brief History of Love, is as exuberant and gleeful an album as we are likely to get in the thick of winter (where else will we get “Jump Music” for a track title?). I am sure the release date was chosen strategically; half the songs sound like they should be soundtracking a spring break party on the beach down in Cancún (plenty of time between January and March/April to get those remixes going). The other half is a bit more introverted, with apprehensive beats overlaid by Robbie Furze’s vocals, which at times sound extremely brittle and at others remarkably powerful.
The first single “Stay Gold”, is a blazing start to the upbeat enthusiasm of the album. It comes to life with dry synth and drum lines, and explodes into fist-pumping exuberance with help from Furze’s soaring vocals and renewed vigor from the keyboards. The positivity and sheer energy compressed into these three minutes and thirty-nine seconds is enough to make even the coolest heads thaw. Close on its heels is “Hit the Ground (Superman)”, all reverb and power chanting, begging for a live performance. “Rubbernecking” and “Jump Music”, although meant as another couple of invigorating listens half way through the album, are less successful at transmitting the raw energy of the first two tracks.
The more subdued part of the album is probably best represented by the numerically titled “1313” and “77”. The former–my favorite–is the longest track of the album, a layered soundscape introduced through quaking synth lines and pseudo cat wailings. A drumbeat and guitar tremolo set in right before the vocals, the most dynamic on the album. Reverberating and double tracked to add depth, the producers played with a call-and-response format recorded on several different tracks, which makes for fun listening on earphones. The outro combines guitar feedback with what sounds like a percussion jam by Stomp.
“77”, the album closer, is in stark divergence from the uplifting feelings of the opening singles. The sound bed is frigid, the beats muffled, the piano line crisp and apprehensive, the background sighing foreboding and sorrowful. When strings come in halfway through the song and a distorted monologue interrupts Furze’s anxious chorus line, the effect is harrowing. Furze’s voice returns, repeating the chorus line over and over while it slowly becomes more and more faint, as if he were being steadily smothered. When all is still, the haunting aftertaste is as unexpected a finish to the album that produced “Stay Gold” as any listener could have imagined.
Between these two bookends, Furze and bandmate Milo Cordell explore all matter of emotions while underscoring an infectious dynamic enthusiasm that is yanked away on the last track. It’s a sobering culmination to an album that could easily have come off as a shallow dance soundtrack, and an open invitation to listen once more.
Future This from The Big Pink is out tomorrow on 4AD.
The Big Pink- Future This (download)
The Big Pink-1313 (download)
The Big Pink- Stay Gold (download)