The Big Pink: Future This
When The Big Pink released their debut album, A Brief History of Love in 2009, I found myself underwhelmed, due in large part I think to false advertising. The title of that album was so ambitious, so bold and daring that I expected the English duo behind it to be shooting for the stars. What I discovered instead on that album (which was solid, if never transcendent, and album I have not returned to overmuch since its release) was a contemporary pop rock record with disparate influences from the distortion of shoe gaze to indie rock bands of the last ten years. It was good stuff, but I never fell for it, possibly because I was disappointed at the failure to strive for the ambition of the title.
The Big Pink avoided this problem of perception at least slightly on their sophomore release, Future This. The three year lapse between records was not utilized by the band to reinvent their sound so much as retool it, focus it, and fine tune it. Which is to say that while Future This is in some ways more of the same from The Big Pink, they at least sound more comfortable in the wheelhouse they have built for themselves. It doesn't hurt that they have some seasoned professionals on board to help them hone that sound, with producers Paul Epworth (who helmed albums by Adele and Foster the People last year) and Alan Moulder (who has assisted kings of distortion My Bloody Valentine and pop rock successes The Killers over the course of his career) on hand.
The opening track, "Stay Gold" is an electronic rock ode to youthful dreams and passionate optimism, while the group turns in several arena-rock ready hits, including "Hit the Ground (Superman)." The band stretches most when it slows things down a bit, as it does on the comparatively subtle "The Palace" and the album ending "77," both of which are worth noting. Future This isn't revolutionary stuff by any stretch of the imagination, and in fact there's a feeling throughout the album that the group may have stopped reaching and decided to get comfortable where they are. The artistic merits of that decision aside, however, this is a perfectly fine album, unadorned at times and fairly straightforward throughout. My bet is that Future This will be long forgotten by the time we start thinking about the greatest albums of 2012, and it will be rightfully left aside. Yet in the depths of winter, when clouds cover the sky and snow covers the ground, it will provide a perfectly fine, albeit more than a bit perfunctory, way to spend an afternoon.