The Future of What
This album title is so fitting it should be glaringly obvious in retrospect. You see, The Future of What
is a transitional piece... a sort of glimpse of what is to come. Many fans of their brash, more overtly-punk early albums are quick to dismiss the change in Unwound's sound on this release. Conversely, fans of their later material -- specifically Repetition
-- might consider Future
a less consistent version of their acclaimed later works. It's been said that much of Future
's track list would be right at home on Repetition
, especially tracks like "Natural Disasters" or "New Energy", so why does it always slip through the cracks when fans recall their favourite Unwound moments?
The Future of What
is Unwound's first attempt at an experimental overhaul, featuring sampled loops and bleak atmosphere not prominent on previous releases, and is one of the most varied albums in their discography. As such, it can easily be shrugged off as a jack-of-all-trades that never quite capitalizes enough on any distinct attribute. This is somewhat of a dysphemism for an album that has something for everyone, as nearly every positive thing you can say about Unwound is present at some point on this release. Justin Trosper delivers his lyrics in his signature 'cryptic-yet-uninterested' fashion, and is hypnotically dreary on songs like "Descension" and "Re-Enact the Crime". Sara Lund is impeccable on drums throughout, but especially on "Demolished". Lund has a habit of being almost mechanical in her delivery, yet still manages to stand out. Vern Rumsey is stellar on bass, though not as prominently mixed as he is on later albums. He offers a tasty blend of rumbling undertones on tracks like "Natural Disasters" and more upbeat bass riffs as heard on "Equally Stupid". As a whole The Future of What
is the Unwound we know and love.
I was quick to disregard The Future of What
upon initial listens. Like many listeners that had only discovered the band within the last few years, my first experience was with their magnum opus Leaves Turn Inside You
. The album set the bar so irrefutably high that everything else seemed to pale in comparison, like developing a taste for a fine scotch -- once you grow accustomed to single-malt, it's easy to develop a distaste for blended varieties. The Future of What
is indeed a blend of everything Unwound had yet to offer in pure form, but is by no means inferior.
"Disillusion wouldn't be the end"
And it wasn't. Disillusion is a perfect descriptor for my initial experience listening to The Future of What
. I felt disappointed upon realizing that things weren't as good as I had initially perceived. My mistake was in thinking that this was indicative of the album's quality. I came to realize that was the imprint this album left on me, as a sort of depressing precognition -- that things don't always get better, but often cycle in a disoriented oblivious loop. Fuck. Pardon my french.
The Future of What?