Completely without vocals, The Timeout Drawer finds ways to make its variety of instruments and synthesizers speak. In this abstract world, The Timeout Drawer is trying to communicate loss and pain, but also ultimate beauty as it takes listeners along through A Difficult Future. Although The Timeout Drawer's voiceless rock may be a strange choice, the band has enough confidence to carry both itself and listeners to where A Difficult Future is going.
Opening with the sweeping "The Gift They'd Pick If the Choice Were Theirs", The Timeout Drawer invites listeners in with a slowly building melody that swells into a journey of its own. The hope in this song, from the title to the soaring synthesizers, provides an optimistic opening to A Difficult Future as a whole. The next track, the evocative "The End of Every Movie" moves the album farther away from the conception of reality. The Timeout Drawer may be a bit indistinct, but it is not unapproachable. A Difficult Future has enough structure to keep it from falling apart, transitioning between the straightforward "Dusty Planes and Daydreams of Adventure" to the all-encompassing "Its Past Makes Its Present So Interesting" effortlessly.
The loosely knit songs have an openness to them, leaving room for listeners to become lost inside this world. Although The Timeout Drawer is a bit intangible at times, there are enough hooks to bring listeners back in. The glorious "300 Years: 100 Pages" develops from a peaceful loop to expansive synthesized orchestration that bears little resemblance to the beginning of the track. It is moments like this that keeps A Difficult Future interesting and proves this is a band that works hard to keep its listeners engaged.
Still, The Timeout Drawer does tend to cultivate excess. With song lengths that often run in the excess of five minutes, often crossing to the six- to seven-minute range, these songs are not easy little pop gems. The band tends to construct all its songs as epics, from the longest, "His Sailing Days Are Over But He Can't Forget the Sea" to the shortest, "Soon a Winged Beauty Will Appear". While none of these songs feel overly long, A Difficult Future does require some patience, especially since the effect is best when the album is taken as a whole. These tracks seem meant to be taken as a unit and not necessarily individually, and at close to an hour, it can be a lot to digest in a single listening.
A Difficult Future may seem pessimistic on title alone, but The Timeout Drawer brings hopefulness to modern despair. The Timeout Drawer has crafted an album that widens the scope of what rock can be, and creates beauty from everyday moments. Even for what it lacks and the few things it has done wrong, The Timeout Drawer is worth every moment it provides on A Difficult Future.