Belonging to a select group of electro-pop artists that have recently found success through pragmatic, business like methods of networking as opposed to the more traditional rock n roll rite of passage (starting at the very bottom, playing the most vile clubs imaginable and getting ‘discovered’ at some mythical venue), they write huge, super catchy pop songs at ease whilst maintaining experimental progression in a strangely affecting way, peculiarly refusing to nestle into the context of any single genre.
And as they pull the curtain down on the ever fading ‘indie landfill’ phenomenon along with the likes of Cut Copy and Foster the People, you can’t help but wonder if this is where music is inevitably headed, relying not on the pluck of a string, but on the push of a button.
If The Big Pink’s richly satisfying debut ‘A Brief History of Love‘, and its similarly engaging follow-up ‘Future This‘ is anything to go by, such a notion is definitely not a bad thing. You may be already familiar with lead single ‘Stay Gold’, a skyward pop anthem that harks back to the insane party rupture of ‘Velvet’ from the group’s first album, but ends up sounding fuller – even more powerful and even more atmospheric. Bursting through the speakers like an oncoming road train, soaring falsetto-reaching vocals from singer Robbie Furze instruct us to “Stay gold (and) shut the lights for the rest to follow”, whilst indulging in classic escapist themes of youth; “We’ll write our names across the town, up is up and so is down”. Setting an adrenalin-laden pace from the get-go, you get the feeling this is not going to be the kind of album you’d sip herbal tea and fall asleep to.
Wisely refraining from disrupting the momentum of the first track, ‘Hit the Ground (Superman)’ jostles along at a frenetic speed, combusting and receding in a fashion that would make Bloc Party proud. A credit to the group’s sparse and wide instrumental spectrum, the track marries swelling electro-synth pop with crackling guitars that fizzle and burst under the group’s electrifying vocal melodies.
A similar template graces ‘Give It Up’, probably the most instantaneous and catchy of all of the tracks on the album. Undoubtedly built for a festival environment, the song never comes across as sounding as fake or as crass as its title may suggest. Although it borders dangerously on tapping into the tired formula of Scissor Sisters in places, its varied synth effects and liquid interludes lend the song to maintain a graceful intimacy throughout.
The most interesting and expansionist song on the album – if that’s even possible on a record designed for mainstream penetration – is definitely the strangely titled ‘1313‘. What starts off as an onslaught of hooks and pumping percussion, the kind that the group have become known for, grows into an extra-terrestrial pop fusion that, upon its feedback drenched outro, inflates and bursts like a convoy of huge helium balloons under a ruckus of thumping tribal drums. The result is a delicious element of surprise that reinforces The Big Pink’s multi-instrumental craftsmanship. The eerie cat-calls of ‘Jump Music’ are likewise sporadic and unexpected from an electro-pop duo.
Elsewhere, the songs border on serious repetition, and in some cases, sound as if they are dying to be included on a DJ’s club playlist. The otherwise pile-driving ‘Rubbernecking’ is one such example, as is the brooding and strained exercise of ‘77’, two tracks that whilst have positive intentions and interesting ideas, ultimately weigh down the album’s latter half. But such endeavours do not mark any significant dents into the strength of the album as a whole.
‘Future This’ is a not a grand progression on the group’s superb debut, but more a polished reinforcement of their qualities and skills as pop songwriters for a modern generation with ever-depleting attention spans and life-or-death reliance on electric gadgets. Subtlety and dynamics are rarely found throughout, but that’s because ‘Future This’ is made to be blasted out of car stereos and party speakers.
The fruits of this triumphant record should be enjoyed in unison, and perhaps following the release of this record will The Big Pink get the commercial recognition they deserve.