Future Elevators – self-titled


Future Elevators – self-titled

No one is ever going to say that making relevant, literate and even challenging new electronic-based music is an easy task. As a large number of performers and producers have discovered in the five or so years since Foster The People set a benchmark for modern pop music, all the equipment, the keyboards, the synths and sequencers, the studio time and the digitised mixing board aren’t of very much use without that most necessary component of any band’s backline – songwriting. Listening to an album of synth-driven music played by a very well-regarded musician only earlier this week, I realised, or just remembered, that the keyboards alone aren’t always enough to actually create memorable and inspired music. You need songs, and quite good ones at that, if you really want your album to make a lasting impression.

Future Elevators definitely have the songs and the equipment to make everything they want to do turn out as it should. They bring a slightly grizzled, sometimes world-weary tone to what is the often shiny electro-pop sound, and while the production occasionally gets in the way of the tunes, each of the ten tracks on their self-titled debut album possess a quality that’s more often attempted than achieved. First track “Rome On A Saturday” has a breezy vibe underscored with just a hint of something slightly darker luring barely heard in the Future Elevator sound. And while the instruments and voices are played and sung with clarity, the grimy overlay of a production designed to scuzz up the harder edges of the band sound can actually be heard and it is this, as the album continues, that subtly undermines some although not completely everything that Future Elevators are doing. Second track “Modern World”, the second track and first single from the album, has two issues around it, firstly that it isn’t really the best choice as a single – that accolade really should have gone to the far superior third track “Losing Sleep” – and also, that scuzzy production makes it sound just a little too dull.

I’ve heard other artists make a bit more of the ‘let’s-make-it-sound-like-it-was-recorded-on-some-ancient-tape-equipment’ approach. The one that I recall most immediately is (reviewed here by me last year) Jack Name, whose Weird Moons album went further along the path signposted ‘freaky’ than most that I’ve heard, mostly as the 70s influenced music matched the pre-digital production style that made the album sound a lot like a rediscovered cassette tape that had been gathering dust in a cupboard since 1978 or thereabouts. As it continues, Future Elevators album has a lot to offer us, and in neither an artistically complicated or just ironic way. It’s music that’s very much of 2016 and, as I mentioned, there are some really well-written songs on display. I only think that the production puts a damper on the sound the band could make, and that while they sing about “wanting to live in a modern world” on “Modern World” itself, a slightly more modernised approach to their studio sound wouldn’t do Future Elevators very much harm at all.

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