Natalie Prass
The Future and the Past


3.0
good

Review

by Brendan Schroer USER (132 Reviews)
June 2nd, 2018 | 29 replies


Release Date: 06/01/2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The very definition of "transitional."

The Future and the Past incorporates some strings in its execution, but that’s mostly where its similarities to Natalie Prass’ debut album begin and end. This ain’t the same baroque-inspired style we first heard from Prass; instead, she was inspired by recent events to flesh out her R&B elements and make them her predominant sound. The majority of the songs are punchy, energetic, and often loaded with flashy horns and synth lines that complement the dance-ready pop rhythms. The production is slick and streamlined, maintaining a steady focus on each facet of the dense instrumentation while retaining its accessibility in the meantime. That’s not to say everything here is accessible though; “Hot for the Mountain” is a strange little number that dishes up some dissonant piano chords while Prass lets out a wispy voice akin to a faint whisper, and “Ship Go Down” expertly juggles melancholy and confusion with its deft jazz-oriented piano chord changes. Still, this can all be considered a far cry from that debut record, which was often labelled as a “diet Disney” album by its detractors. And to be fair, that wasn’t an unfounded criticism; the album often seemed too preoccupied with its saccharine arrangements and artificially beautiful atmosphere to focus on actually writing interesting songs. The Future and the Past has a clear focus on crafting tight jams that revolve around the things it should: Prass’ new experiments and - by extension - touches of stylistic diversity. She even dips her toes into some soul-inflected waters, the vocally multi-layered midtempo ballad “Never Too Late” and the mournful piano-laden crawl of “Lost” being the finest examples. Also, I have to give Prass kudos for not being too forceful or obvious with her political references here; she was reportedly inspired by recent events to go in this new direction, but the lyrics themselves are veiled thinly enough to get a pass.

Unfortunately, what often doesn’t get a pass is Prass’ presence on this record. I get the feeling she’s still trying to shed her older style and persona, but it still sticks out like a sore thumb on many occasions. While her songs are dynamic and powerful at their most intense moments, she herself tends to sound too out-of-place. Her voice doesn’t sound confident or risky enough for the change she’s setting for herself; it’s a shame too, because it seeps into what would have otherwise been much better tunes. “Sisters” has a really fun midtempo funk-pop beat that’s led by a pounding piano/bass attack, but the multitracked chant “keep your sisters close to ya” just sounds resigned and bored in contrast. Similarly, “Fire” has some awesome booming horn lines in it, but Prass lends some dull willowy soft pop fluff in her voice that just doesn’t fit. Even the neat vocal harmonies don’t make it much better. To be honest, she doesn’t sound very comfortable switching sounds yet. She clearly exhibits a desire to do so from an instrumental/songwriting perspective, but she needs to work on the way she leads and owns her songs. I’m still willing to give The Future and the Past a modest recommendation, but only a modest one. At the very least, it’s nice to hear Prass branch out and try something new. Here’s hoping she can really solidify and strengthen this new approach with her next effort.



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user ratings (34)
3.3
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
DivergentThinking
June 2nd 2018


6226 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Haven't done a shorter review in a while. Sup guys

theBoneyKing
June 2nd 2018


17634 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great review. I love the singles off this, so I’m hoping to enjoy it a bit more than it seems you did.

Digging: Sun Kil Moon - Ghosts of the Great Highway

DoofusWainwright
June 2nd 2018


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Good review.



Small thing, maybe the sentence 'Still, this can all be considered...' could start a new para?



I'll give the album a go.

granitenotebook
Contributing Reviewer
June 3rd 2018


965 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice review, glad this is getting some attention

DivergentThinking
June 3rd 2018


6226 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks guys. And yeah Doof, I was actually considering splitting that up, thanks for the suggestion

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
June 4th 2018


10589 Comments


Would I dig this bro?

DivergentThinking
June 4th 2018


6226 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

If you're into light R&B jams with an indie pop slant, then sure :]

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
June 4th 2018


10589 Comments


I do like the occasional indie pop album, but definitely not on a regular basis.

DivergentThinking
June 4th 2018


6226 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Even as a big indie pop fan, I was pretty on-the-fence about this one. It's not bad, just a bit undecided on what direction it wants to go. I'd prefer Natalie either staying in her old style or doing a full-blown transition to the R&B stuff. This "dipping the toes in the water" technique doesn't always work too well

Atari
Staff Reviewer
June 4th 2018


25134 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

why am I not surprised you 2'd this doof, lol ;]

Digging: Proper. - I Spent the Winter Writing Songs About Getting Bet

DivergentThinking
June 4th 2018


6226 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You might enjoy this, Atari

Atari
Staff Reviewer
June 5th 2018


25134 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I definitely enjoy some of it. find her to be slightly irritating at times, but I know there's a song I've had stuck in my head that's pretty good



will revisit soon

luci
June 5th 2018


11945 Comments


if she wanted me to check she should've called it The Future and the Prasst

DoofusWainwright
June 5th 2018


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

yeah, this wasn't my thing at all - still a 2 is a good score from me for a pop album ;D

Atari
Staff Reviewer
June 5th 2018


25134 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"Lost" is the song I had stuck in my head. pretty nice jam





luci
June 5th 2018


11945 Comments


this is sophisti-pop primary on rym, surprised you don't dig it doof. seems like a companion to that eleanor snooze

luci
June 5th 2018


11945 Comments


wait there are dance-pop and r&b tags, guess i'll check

edit: this is my thing unsurprisingly. i feel like doof heard "oh baby oh baby" then slapped a 2

Atari
Staff Reviewer
June 5th 2018


25134 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

lol. reminds me of Solange at times actually!

luci
June 5th 2018


11945 Comments


^Lost just started and I def feel Seat at the Table vibes!

this is gonna be a 3.5, makes me wanna put on that album lol

"nothing to say" is a jam

theBoneyKing
June 5th 2018


17634 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

After two listens I’m def digging this though I think the singles are still my favorites unfortunately. Slight step up from her debut.



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