Music

The Globes: Future Self

While Future Self has a loftiness to it, there are very few individual songs that really stand out – everything is coated in a veneer of desperation, of an almost faux attempt at being down and out for the sheer sake of it.


The Globes

Future Self

Label: Barsuk
US Release Date: 2011-04-26
UK Release Date: 2011-05-10
Amazon
iTunes

I’ve noticed a reoccurring theme lately in the sphere of indie rock: a preoccupation with the natural world. You see it now and then in band names – Grizzly Bear, Wolf Parade, and New York’s Ghost Bunny come to mind – but, more and more, it’s showing up on the lyrics sheet as a major obsession. New Numbers has a song about the animal kingdom taking over from man, and the aforementioned Ghost Bunny has a track on their debut album about a guy who wanders around the city dressed in a lion suit. The Globes, a group that hails from Spokane, Washington, is just like these other outfits dressing up their sounds with a turn to the imagery of the rural wilderness. There are no less than three songs on the eight-song deep debut Future Self that signal this interest in base creature comforts: “Haunted by Bears”, “Pigeon”, and “Pretty Birds above Our Heads”. That’s not to speak of the fact that the song “Ghost” starts off with the lines: “Black crow / Perched on a wire / Calls out the name / Of the demons I’ve known”. I have to admit that I’m at a total loss for this seemingly environmentally cconscientious gaze in indie rock circles, what it means, and its deeper significance. Maybe these bands have just spent too much time in the city, and conjuring up green space images is just an escape.

What The Globes don’t have an escape hatch from on Future Self is the gloomy pessimism of the Pacific Northwest. This is more than evidenced from the opening verses of opener “Haunted by Bears”, which immediately begins with the lines “Stay where you are / You’re surrounded by bears / Hungry and eager to tear you apart / You could run but you know you’d get caught / You could play dead but you know that you are”. Not exactly the stuff that blasts away the doom of the perpetual rain that they get up there in Washington state. In fact, Future Self is a fairly morose record (and yet seemingly not morose enough), one that recalls the work of The Bends-era Radiohead crossed with the polished loud/soft dynamics of the latter day work of The Pixies, somewhere around Bossanova and Trompe le Monde, just without the heavy metal fireworks of said recordings. What’s more, The Globes take a turn into Led Zeppelin territory with the album’s final track, “Face Up Facing”, which has more than a passing resemblance to the grandiosity of “Kashmir”. (Upon thinking about it, the track also sounds a little bit like Canada’s The Tea Party in overall vibe.)

All in all, there is a sense of congealed sonic heft to be found on Future Self, and, for the most part, this record feels like an album, a statement, as there’s a real flow to the progression of the material at large, making the album feel a little claustrophobic at times. However, there’s the niggling feeling that all of this has been all done before, done better with a certain starkness that seems to be missing from Future Self. There’s something intangible that I can’t quite put my finger on, but for all of its craft and laboured construction, Future Self feels like an album that has been cast adrift, that its scope and ambition has gotten away from the band's clutches. Put another way, while Future Self has a loftiness to it, there are very few individual songs that really stand out – everything is coated in a veneer of desperation, of an almost faux attempt at being down and out for the sheer sake of it. There’s a depth that just seems to be lacking, hooks that draw you in deeper and deeper into this downward spiral of almost hopelessness.

Maybe that assessment is a bit harsh, considering that Future Self isn’t that bad of a package. There are individual moments that rear their head every now and then that serve to remind the hoi polloi that the Globes are indeed capable of writing a good song. While the start of “Ghost” is a little bit too drifty for my liking, the band does eventually start playing for the back of the bleachers by the time the song unspools to its climax. “Pigeon” is a memorable track with galloping guitars and bluesy swagger. “Haunted by Bears” is, well, haunting -- what more can be said? “A Stitch Couldn’t Save the World” has a groovy motion to it, streamlined and sleek, before the guitars crunch in birdlike squalor. However, the album drifts away the further you get into it, and you can practically smell the valium fumes wafting off of the latter tracks. From the mid-point onward, there just seems to be bits and pieces that feel particularly memorable as opposed to full bodied songs. What’s more, Future Self feels like a concept album in need of a concept, and keeps the listener at arm’s length. You find yourself wanting to find something more penetrating, something that would allow you to get drawn into the lyrics, but everything just feels like mere words to pad the slippery shifting music.

After listening to Future Self multiple times, I got the sense that it might work best as space-rock, stuff that is dressing to the background of your particularly down and dreamy, not-quite-suicidal-but-close, mood. Therein lies a bit of the frustration with the record: You just want it to be starker and more drenched with feeling. There’s anger to be found here – “Pigeon” has the chorus of “You’re perpetually fucked, fucked in the head”, and “Stay Awake” boasts “I’m fucking around with nothing to do” – but it feels lightweight. For an album that is preoccupied with all of the dreaded wonders of life in the woods, there’s a holding back, of not going full bore into the particulars of one’s basest instincts. Future Self simply lacks emotion, any heart, any soul – which is the most damning and frustrating thing about it. It is an enjoyable album, but you just want more from it than it actually delivers.

When all is said and done, Future Self certainly has the DNA of something engaging, but the band just doesn’t seem to pull it all together into a grand statement. Maybe it has something to do with the relative brevity of it being just eight songs long, maybe it has to do with its gray mood rather than outright blackness. And, yes, maybe it has something to do with this reviewer’s own particular feeling at the time of writing this – seeing that I’m currently between contracts in the job world and am feeling just a little bit blue about my current lack of employment. Ergo, I suppose that if you’re going to get down and depressed on me musically, I right now kind of expect the emotional holocaust of something like the Cure’s Pornography. (Don’t worry, dear reader, I’m fine and I know my moods enough to know this is just a passing phase.) So take my words with a grain of salt, and the realization that, for me, Future Self just comes across as a merely adequate statement than anything startling and worth writing home about. There’s something here, but it just doesn’t plumb as low as it should. I don’t want to write the band off or sound dismissive, yet while Future Self is not quite something for the birds, to quote the band’s own lyrics in “Stay Awake”: “I want something more from you”.

6

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image