Steven Wilson
The Future Bites


3.5
great

Review

by TheMoonchild USER (156 Reviews)
January 27th, 2021 | 139 replies


Release Date: 2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Steven Wilson takes a step forward by, ironically, taking a few steps backward.

Steven Wilson is an artist that I've had rather complicated feelings about. Though the grand majority of his Porcupine Tree work is undeniably fantastic, I always found the fact that he was being looked at as one of modern prog's founding fathers to be rather ironic when he seemed to nail pretty much everything in his music but the actual prog aspect. The big draw to Porcupine Tree for a number of years was how accessible and unpretentious his music often tended to be; so much that the songs usually seen as the "true prog moments" were the low points. Call me crazy, but I've always found tracks like "Lazarus", " Open Car" and the title track to Lightbulb Sun to be more worth my time than, say, "Russia on Ice", " Tinto Brass" or even Deadwing's title track, mainly because they seemed to be what Steven was very skilled at: attention grabbing melodies and songwriting.

I don't think there's been any bigger piece of evidence of this, too, than his first couple solo records. I'm sure that Grace for Drowning would be in my top albums of all time if it was much shorter and free of "Raider II", the obligatory long prog song, and this was taken to its absolute nadir with The Raven That Refused to Sing. Although its intention was admirable, the majority of the album was a tough pill to swallow with overlong, robotic and emotionless pale copies of songs that bands like King Crimson and Camel did far better several decades before him, and it became clear to me at that point that his music was officially less about packing the emotional punch that songs like "Arriving Somewhere..." and "Stop Swimming" did and more about appealing to a certain type of audience. And it seems that Steven himself seems to have realized this too, because every album from there on out seemed to do a far better job at self-censoring and even trying to recognize what his strengths were.

That may sound like the obligatory "hot take" used to defend an album, but I mention it because it's a perfect picture of where Wilson is currently at with his music. His latest album, The Future Bites, seems to be Wilson finally not caring what his original fan base thinks any more, and deciding to finally just commit to a new direction that seems to be tailored to his strengths. As a consequence, it is also his most accessible album yet, while still maintaining the Pink Floyd and other influences that were apparent in several of his early works.

The Future Bites attempts to both be a pop album and a statement on people's growing consumeristic tendencies, and it's unsurprisingly the former where this album seems to succeed the most. Wilson both draws from early Porcupine Tree and Blackfield/No-Manesque sounds while also pursuing a modern direction, and for the most part they seem to blend really well. Opener "Self" exists on a solid yet hard-hitting groove that contrasts soulful backup vocals with abrasive effect-laden vocals from Wilson himself. "King Ghost" follows suit, and continues to deliver on the pop music promise set by "Self", this time relying on a Trip-hop beat, beautiful synth arpeggios and beautiful falsetto that really elevates the track. And yet despite this being pretty much the template for the majority of the record, Wilson still manages to use it to blend Pink Floyd and 80s pop influences on tracks like "Eminent Sleaze", easily the catchiest tune on the record, write soulful ballads like "Man of the People" or even the ten minute synth pop banger "Personal Shopper".

It's the latter part of said attempt, however, where The Future Bites unsurprisingly falters. I say "unsurprisingly", because social commentary has never been his strong suit (I'm looking at you, lyrics like "The XBOX is a god to me" and "But a song comes onto my iPod and I realize it's getting late"), and that seems to really rear its ugly head here. "Personal Shopper" definitely slaps musically, but its "OK, Boomer" lyrics that really seem to do the song in, and this reaches its nadir when Elton John reads a list of items you can buy with money and items you can't- five bucks to whoever can tell me what the blue fuck an "Organic LED Television" is. "Eminent Sleaze" also seems to suffer from this, with its attempts at commenting on CEOs and their often sleazy nature not really anywhere near as clever as Wilson seems to think. Maybe that's the point of the song? I'm not sure, but this really is best enjoyed when you ignore the lyrics. In fact, the only attempt at social commentary that does really succeed is "Man of the People", where Wilson assumes the role of the significant other of a Harvey Weinstein/Kevin Spacey type figure accused of sexual misconduct, and the often powerful lyrics combined with Wilson's soulful delivery and powerful music do make for an emotional listening experience.

The remainder of the album seems to resemble some of the more accomplished tracks you would find on To the Bone or even the more Wilson-heavy Blackfield releases, and this often makes for a more compelling listen. The Blackfield-esque "12 Things I Forgot" sees a middle aged Wilson reflecting on the often cynical attitude that it's hard not to develop when you get older, and the reflective lyrics contrast perfectly with its catchy, peppy beat. "Follower" exists on a catchy uptempo pace, combined with some great vocals Wilson and great harmonies in the chorus. Ambient album closer "Count of Unease" brings the album to a soft and dreamy finish, with its minimalistic nature making for the perfect palette cleanser.

Though this may be Wilson's most minimalistic effort yet, it surprisingly manages to make for a more compelling listen. Steven may be leagues below what he's musically capable of here, but for once it seems as though he's committed to pursuing a musical direction that is tailored to his strengths, even if he still manages to falter on areas he's always been weak at. Regardless, I've no doubt this album will polarize most of his fan base, but those willing to look past the whole "abandoning prof" album will recognize that this album seems to display what he's capable of when he pursues areas other than just rock music, progressive or not. And if this is what the future may hold for Wilson, well, he's got my attention.



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user ratings (313)
2.9
good
other reviews of this album
Benjamin Kuettel EMERITUS (2.8)
A bold reinvention for the modern progressive rock giant that will polarize his audience....

Brendan Schroer STAFF (2.5)
Misguided....

jakeharmon99 (4.5)
Wilson progresses further down the Art Rock road, down which he began to travel with 2017's "To...

Ana1992 (3.5)
Future Bites is a rather controversial album, which I liked a lot. Steve Wilson showed that he can e...



Comments:Add a Comment 
TheMoonchild
January 27th 2021


1315 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Was gonna wait until tomorrow to write this, but there's already a staff review, so I thought "fuck it".



I'm fully prepared to get ghost-negged into oblivion for those first two paragraphs, but hey, I would rather be honest with my opinion of someone's work than lie just for pos votes.

parksungjoon
January 27th 2021


47235 Comments


lonely moonchild

dreaming in the shadows of a willow

ChoccyPhilly
January 27th 2021


13629 Comments


I love PTs work but I have mixed feelings on his solo stuff. Those first two paragraphs are basically how I feel as well so don't worry youre not alone :]

TheMoonchild
January 27th 2021


1315 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@ChoccyPilly



Yeah, I want so desperately to love songs like The Watchmaker or The Holy Drinker but they just stretch themselves so fucking thin. Luminol is admirable as a glorified jam session but any song that takes four minutes to get to something attention grabbing or compelling loses points in my book.

parksungjoon
January 27th 2021


47235 Comments


this bastard just fuckin ignored me wtf

LeddSledd
January 27th 2021


7444 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

"unpretentious"

ChoccyPhilly
January 27th 2021


13629 Comments


I think the only time he got it right was on Hand Cannot Erase but he is guilty of that for sure.
Feel like he needs some creative tension with other people like in PT rather than surrounding himself with well... himself.

That or the heaviness of some of the latter PT albums can make up for him drawing out songs too but he's obviously abandoned any metal influence

zelenichajnik
January 27th 2021


624 Comments


If you get ghost-negged into oblivion for those first two paragraphs then fuck, i don't know what to say - beautifully articulated. Never really been a fan of his output but man he's a tasty producer. Still, might give this a blast.

TheMoonchild
January 27th 2021


1315 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@parksungjoon



The funny part is, I wanted to be just "Moonchild" after the Maiden song, but it was already taken.

TheMoonchild
January 27th 2021


1315 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@ChoccyPhilly



I quite like To the Bone. It's a messy and inconsistent album but lots of songs on that album just plain slap.

parksungjoon
January 27th 2021


47235 Comments


>The funny part is, I wanted to be just "Moonchild" after the Maiden song, but it was already taken.


well thats disappointing

Lord(e)Po)))ts
January 27th 2021


70242 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

Change it to moonchild sanelly after the legendary gqom artist who raps about dick and pussy

TheMoonchild
January 27th 2021


1315 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

But does he rap about dicks going INTO pussy?

parksungjoon
January 27th 2021


47235 Comments


>In fact, the only attempt at social commentary that does really succeed is "Man of the People", where Wilson assume the role of the significant other of a Harvey Weinstein/Kevin Spacey type figure accused of sexual misconduct, and the often powerful lyrics combined with Wilson's soulful delivery and powerful music do make for an emotional listening experience.

gonna have to check just for this

Lord(e)Po)))ts
January 27th 2021


70242 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

*she

TheMoonchild
January 27th 2021


1315 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

If it's not WAP 2: Wet Ass Boogaloo then I'm out

parksungjoon
January 27th 2021


47235 Comments


She is known for her signature blue-colored hair and her self-created music genre called "Future ghetto punk".

TheMoonchild
January 27th 2021


1315 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@parksungjoon



Yeah its a great song.



And typo fixed

parksungjoon
January 27th 2021


47235 Comments


>Change it to moonchild sanelly after the legendary gqom artist who raps about dick and pussy

apparently rym likes her 2015 lp better have u heard it

Koris
Staff Reviewer
January 27th 2021


21170 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7 | Sound Off

Got a review for this one comin’ sometime soon



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