Robbie Furze and Milo Cordell make up the British duo The Big Pink. They formed in 2007, and their music is a far cry from the Americana roots of The Band’s album “Music from Big Pink,” from which the Big Pink drew their name. They’ve been classified along the lines of electro-rock and indie pop, and the band’s strong emphasis on synth and distortion coupled with catchy vocals puts The Big Pink firmly in the camp of shoegaze.
The band, which has been signed to independent British record label 4AD since 2009, first gained recognition for their 2009 single “Dominos,” which reached a notable 27th on the UK Singles chart. In 2010, The Big Pink won both a NME nod for best track for “Dominos,” and the publication’s prestigious Philip Hall Radar Award for best new act. Since then, they’ve made some significant appearances opening for Muse’s UK tour and playing Coachella in 2010. The Big Pink’s first album, “A Brief History of Love,” was released in 2009 to some acclaim. Since then, the band has laid low, working on their sophomore effort, “Future This,” which was released this past Tuesday.
“A Brief History” was characterized by grittiness, which lent the album a degree of cohesion and character. Perhaps it’s the band’s increased focus on the electronic, or perhaps just better overall production — but “Future This” comes across as a much more polished album. The Big Pink sounds more sanitized, with every track coming off as radio-ready. It’s such a distinct departure from their first album that at some points “Future This” sounds like a completely different band. “Future This” takes The Big Pink’s electronic soundscape tendencies farther than their freshman effort. For the most part, the increased emphasis on synth and electronics is successful. Other times, such as in “Give It Up,” they sample hip-hop beats, which unfortunately comes off as a little awkward and contrived.
The album begins with what are arguably the two strongest tracks, the melodic and pop-y “Stay Gold” and “Hit the Ground (Superman).” Starting off so strong is a bold move, and one that The Big Pink is luckily able to sustain. No track really stands out as particularly weak, and each track has a truly distinct sound, from the electro pop first songs to the darker, more drum-heavy “1313.” While “A Brief History” was characterized by a cohesiveness in sound, “Future This” is notable in that each track is fully capable of standing alone.
“Future This” is marked by the band’s increased emphasis on vocals. The careful balance between vocals and instrumentation was a strong part of the band’s first album– an element which they should have maintained in their second work. Every song is heavy on the vocals. Furze has a pretty good voice, but it’s a bit tiring, especially when it’s worn out in repetitive tracks such as the closing “77.”
“Future This” is a completely different type of album than The Big Pink’s first work, and that’s good. Lyrically, the band has matured from their previous focus on promiscuity and heartbreaking to more uplifting messages, which are a refreshing deviation from lyrics such as this line from “Dominos:” “These girls fall like dominos, dominos.” The album is really defined by it’s melodies, and it’s easy to listen to. If you’re looking for an album that is trying in its sound and its lyrics, this is definitely not it. But if you’re in the mood for an upbeat foray into synth-heavy indie rock, this album is solid. 7.5/10.