At a glance, The Big Pink portray a modern 'Leonard Cohen'-esque 'Ride'. They take assessable lyrics about love and combine dirty beats with fuzz guitars. Debut album A Brief History of Love, was filled with delicious melodic hooks and catchy choruses. Produced by Paul Epworth (Adele, Friendly Fires and Florence), Future This instantly strikes me as a well refined, commercially viable pop album.
The opener, 'Stay Gold', begins in typical Big Pink fashion. With a signature synthesizer riff and aged, childish vocals. The track makes for a well presented pop single. However, not all signs of Shoegaze are lost. The layers are still present, just in a minimal form. I hear a guitar hook here and a synth line over there, it's pretty basic and relies on the chorus to brighten up the track. it's not the best song in the world, but the compact sound is completely listenable. I'm not wiping off this sophomore effort just yet.
'Hit The Ground (Superman)' features some more synthesized hooks and a steady bass which directs the listener to focus on the lyrical topic at hand. In general, It's the highlight on the album. It doesn't exactly reach new grounds for pop music or The Big Pink. It has an admirable melody and singer Robbie Furze's vocal range shows forceful. The refrain kicks in like a middle aged women giving head to her toy boy. The incredibly bland lyrics bring this song down a notch. The beat is impressive and very compact, much like the 'Hip-Hop' direction they were intending to take. The song closes with this beat and a whole bunch of layered vocal harmonies with synthesized soundscapes.
Repercussions, everywhere. On the third track, 'Give It Up', the listener is exposed to an exceedingly heavy drum beat. The common synthesizer opening features the wah-wah effect, with some computerized brass hooks before the vocals enter. It's no surprise to me when the chorus kicks in with the further synthezizer hook and inclined vocals repeating the words "Give it up". The production sounds compact yet dated, the exception being track four, 'The Palace'. This track commences with a tribal-esque drum beat, followed by synthetic reverberated sythesizers and the hooks, guitar riff and predictable bass. It's a catchy track with a huge emphasis on lyrics. The layered synthesizers are present, with minimal guitar work and thorough bass.
Hold on.. Have I heard this before?? '1313', It's.. 'Golden Pendulum'. The beats are incredibly similar.. Anyway, 1313 begins with a gritty synthesizer opening before the reverbed drum beat enraptures. The song follows a basic structure, with the drum beat unimaginative and the synthesizer sounding weak along with the poor produced initial chorus. By now It's clear The Big Pink are aiming towards success and mainstream likeliness of British dwellings. The guitar layers enter at certain points on this track, but they fade away and the label of 'compact' is lost.
Now pop music isn't all that bad. On one hand we have catchy, but cheesy songs about love. On the other we have well produced, condensed songs. 'Rubbernecking' combines both hands, which formulates am exciting, childing pop song. The opening synthesizer riff is reverbed and sounds like an organ. I imagine the music video featuring several school children jumping up and down in slow motion. Rubbernecking truly has an ear catching chorus with it's thunderous bass and energetic vocal. it's a standout track on the album and it's my personal favorite because of the dissonant synthesizer textures and increasingly powerful vocals.
What happens next is unsurprising. Three years after the well received and critically acclaimed debut, the paying listener meets back half filler. It's a shame because the overall sound wasn't too overpowering and the layered synths made up for the lack of guitar. Bland anthem 'Jump Music' is harsh on the ear with its uncharacteristic vocal and terrible, terrible lyrics. 'Lose Your Mind' sounds like Kylie Minogue on crack. The repeated line "Loose your mind, doing it for the love", is far from beautiful or catchy. The repetition kills me.
The beat heavy title track, 'Future This', has several industrial like sounds raping my ears. The sparse sound is something I'm not used to with The Big Pink. The synthesizers eventually enter with the best guitar riff on the album (one of very few, may I add). The facade of expression seems to be non-existent here. Where Rubbernecking, Stay Gold and even The Palace have lyrical meaning, Future This has none. Closer '77' follows suit. With no passion and energy, we're left with 'back end bullshit'.
Without being bias, I believe The Big Pink have taken a step forward and matured their sound with help from a mainstream producer. Yes, it sounds like pop. Yes, it's easily accessible and you could be spoon fed this record into liking it. Just take a deep breath and accept 4AD's girth with this one. The singles are incredibly catchy and do represent good indications of a bright recording future, but the lack of soul and beauty bring this album down. The back half is below average except the anthem Rubbernecking. So this is what it comes down to. It's completely up to the listener if you purposely dislike this album because it's pop, or if you progress onwards leaving behind and forgetting about this sophomore effort because its 'different'. it's all a matter of personal opinion between loathsome commoners. This is a solid album with catchy songs and commendable production, you shouldn't write it off just because it's pop. It's their direction, let them take it (I personally would've preferred more Shoegaze, but that's just me).