Review Summary: The Big Pink scale down the style on which they were founded and turn the epic factor up...way up.
Imagine for a moment that the Shins collaborate with MGMT to make a hands-in-the-air, no-frills-held arena synth-pop album. That’s the best way I can describe The Big Pink’s sophomore effort Future This
- a record that, quite frankly, may be too damn anthemic for its own good. Its atmosphere is rich and vibrant, indulging in the elasticity of its electronic elements while somehow also remaining firmly entrenched in indie pop know-how. Those who have heard the band’s debut album, A Brief History Of Love
, will know exactly what I mean – yet it is those same fans who may be overcome with disappointment at how much the band’s music appears to have been simplified here.
It doesn’t take long to realize the tune that Future This
will sing, as it commences with the triumphant ‘Stay Gold.’ The single nearly exists as one giant chorus, delightfully bouncing on wave after wave of euphoric “shut the light for the rest to follow” chants before fading into a reverb-soaked drum pattern in the outro. If there are two things to learn from the opening track, they are: 1.) The Big Pink are out to sweep you off your feet with one enormously epic musical gesture after another and 2.) their means of achieving such a grandiose sound come at the cost of experimentation and atmospheric/textural diversity. If we were to once again make a comparison to the band’s debut, the songs on here liken themselves much more to ‘Dominos’ than they do to ‘Crystal Visions’ or ‘Too Young to Love.’ Their once endearing murkiness and distortedness have been cleaned up, polished, and waxed to be as sleek and shiny as possible.
Even though this gives Future This
a somewhat tepid feel, it isn’t always a bad thing. ‘Stay Gold’ might be the best shamelessly mainstream indie song you will encounter all year, and I say that fully aware of the eleven months remaining in 2012. Their sampling of Laurie Anderson’s ‘O Superman’ in ‘Hit the Ground’ works well in creating an infectious follow-up to ‘Stay Gold’ - and to be truthful, catchiness is never the album’s problem. ‘Give It Up’, ‘The Palace’, and ‘Rubbernecking’ all keep the listener hooked, delivering one well-crafted chorus after another. The synth-driven nature of the album can really be heard in the rather appropriately titled ‘Jump Song’, which features a memorable stutter-step beat that makes some form of dance movement difficult to resist. Between The Big Pink’s quality efforts in the production department and their overall tune sense, there are plenty of reasons to get hooked on Future This
The fact that this album only features one guitar solo (present in ‘Lose Your Mind’) will be unsettling to some, just as the overall shift towards accessibility will crush any hopes of this band meriting indie credit and/or underground status. However, The Big Pink have blazed a path for themselves that looks to be just as promising as it is commercially lucrative. For those who don’t mind a slight drop-off in substance, Future This
packs all the energy needed to fill arenas and get people jumping and swaying in a U2-inspired trance. The only question is how much epic posturing you can handle before Future This
’ relentless escalation desensitizes you.