The overwhelming acclaim accorded to The Big Pink's first record must have made presenting its follow up a daunting task. Not that the swaggering duo seem particularly easily shaken: it takes a hardy disposition to name your debut album “A Brief History Of Love”. They have the credentials – Robbie Furze played guitar for Alec Empire and Milo Cordell (son of Denny) runs Merok Records, releasing records by noisy new rave rockers including Klaxons, Titus Andronicus and Crystal Castles. They have a string of pedigree collaborators – including Daniel O'Sullivan (Aethenor) and producer Alan Moulder (My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus And Mary Chain, Yeah Yeah Yeahs). They even had a debut album that, arguably, transcended its ridiculous hype. Unfortunately, however, they do not have a sophomore effort to match its predecessor; “Future This” never quite reaches the sum of its parts.
It is interesting to note that The Big Pink have spent a hefty proportion of the period between albums playing alongside big stadium rock bands; for example as the support for Muse on their UK arena tour. I have a nagging suspicion this has had an adverse effect on “Future This”. Furze recently revealed in an interview: “although I love the first record, it was generally quite a down record” concluding “the gigs had quite a sombre feel, too, so we wanted to create a different type of energy on this record.” The record's reception live, it seems, has eclipsed the record in its own right.
This has its benefits.
Flawed as it may be, “Stay Gold” is a euphorically epic introduction. Similarly, “Give It Up” is a hip tilting classic; perfect to shift your pivots to as the sun sets over the main stage of a summer festival. “The Palace” opens with a promising swell of electronics – more than reminiscent of early Boards of Canada – before breaking into a Tear For Fears like celebration of unabashed pop. Think: closing credits of an 80s sitcom – a deliciously guilty pleasure. “Jump Music” and “Lose Your Mind”move the set forward with the driving urgency of The Cure, whilst “1313” contains the crashing finale and “Rubbernecking’s” swirling nostalgia offers prime encore material.
But as a record, it doesn't quite sit. The shoegaze lilt of “A Brief History Of Love” is lost and the freshly cleaned lines feel sterile. In short “Future This” has its moments; but lacks the melodies, the subtlety, the repeat-worthy-complexity to meet its affectations. The final track, “77”, is a noteworthy exception. The most intimate track on the album, it's reportedly about the death of Cordell's brother. Cordell even steps up to the mic for the first time – emerging from behind his studio armour to read an excerpt from Fante's “Ask The Dust”. Yes, in terms of production it's rough around the edges – for the closing moments of the album, the eye-on-the-prize-elegance falls – but it's honest and gut-wrenchingly immediate. And all the better for it: while I can appreciate elegance, it's the inelegant I hold close to my heart.