The Big Pink
, January 5th, 2012 12:21
"We're all made of gold!" Yay! We actually are! I can feel it. The gold, that is, IN ME! Wait, what? Are we gold? I'm not. Actually...it would solve those pesky bedroom problems. If, literally, I was made of gold. Hang on, gold is a soft metal. Never mind. The point is.... positivity is the new dread, so say hipster trend-chasers and style-over-substance svengalis, The Big Pink, on the millennium-sized 'Stay Gold' – a tacky arse-bag of a thing, which also happens to be as purely pleasurable a pop song as you're likely to hear all year (with 11 calendar months remaining, I stand by my convictions. Sweatily).
Next to 'Stay Gold', the Londoners heinously trite but crazily catchy 'Dominos' seems as saleable as a dead rat. The album's big opener sees all the signature Pink-pop ingredients present and correct but amped to fuck with marble-sized clots of serotonin. You've got the big drums intro, the blocky structuring, the whirring synths, the chorus hook as addictive as that cat drug thing, and the complete absence of any discernible meaning. It is delivered, nonetheless, with an absolute confidence in its Old Testament-level profundity, meeting Coldplay's 'Paradise' halfway to the clean-cut middle of arms aloft platitude-pop. There goes that doomy underground edge of theirs. SM:TV here we come! Don't forget the Mouse-Mouse! Then again, from day one their pretence as serious art-eests was fishy as hell.
After all, this is the 'art rock' band who, up until last year, still believed Beyonce covers to be the height of cunning, like transgressive pop art or something, as if a Halloween-y 'Sweet Dreams' (covered as a b-side to 'Tonight') is a bad-ass act of deconstructionist daring, revealing unseen dimensions to the song (tenderness/darkness), hitherto incomprehensible to the unwashed masses. As any Live Lounge moron knows, a stripped back Beyonce song sounds depressing.
Basically, it was fooling no one. They were all digipunk this, and Richard Kern that, and 'ooooh, our bare-bulb-junky-fuck-blow-your-brains-out-cunt-pop is better than you, suburban Razorlight fan'. And then, like a lonely fart in a deserted Tescos, their debut wheezed out of the gates, a significant portion of its running time resembling a patly affectless Kasabian and some tinsel (or "throwaway atmospherics" as this publication phrased it). It was the produce of urban dilettantes with very little to say and even less to contribute by way of taking music, or the charts, into the future. And now, sigh, an album entitled... wouldn’t you know it… Future This. Well, shit. Just... shit. Roll your eyes and gird your loins.
It comes as a massive relief, then, that at some point in the making of Future This they accepted their weakness in the artsy stakes, left the cool-collecting to the A&R at Cordell's Merok label, and set about accepting their place in life as a pop band with a good ear for melody. In the process they yielded something a lot more spontaneous, not to mention heartfelt. And the hits just keep on coming - you shine a light and the rest will follow, as Robbie Furze sings. 'Give It Up' is a rough hewn Talk Talk in anthem mode, '13' soars, the title track boasts another great chorus, the forlorn '77' is genuinely moving, and the synthbrass-bolstered 'Rubbernecking' is a mega-hook ode to album muse and graffiti artist Krink. Warm and contented, the keynote 'The Palace (So Cool)' denounces the joy-killing cult of irony ("Tell it like it is, man, all across the golden globe"). Sure, the tracks are interchangeable, lumpy, obvious, and perma-epic, but it's their lightness of being that makes it all worthwhile. After 'Stay Gold' comes album highlight 'Hit The Ground (Superman)' which, with its choral swoons and refrain of "I don't wanna hit the ground!" tells of a band feeling liberated after years of art-chic nonchalance.
Produced by Paul Epworth (Adele, Florence & The Machine, Plan B) Future This is a coherent, uniform proposition, a proper album, rather than a melange of posturing and botched experimentation, as was the case with A Brief History Of Love. Of course, what with the washy Dave Fridmann-style production, the hip hop beats and the 'happy' theme, like any nice young chameleonic hipster boys worth their salt, they’re years behind the real innovators; a full four behind MGMT, another ten adrift of The Flaming Lips. But, despite some of the most gracelessly constructed lyrics you'll hear all year (no sweat this time), many a laughably gauche one-liner ("Forgive your lovers but don't forget their names" - must remember that one) and the jarring choruses that jump out on you like a mugger, nevertheless, they get by on the artificial fizz of MDMA elation.
Like any synthetic high, it feels pretty real when you're in the moment, even if the hit is ephemeral and, taken as a whole, the album has all the plastered-smile emotional range of a pilled-up QVC host. Even so, Future This is to be commended for flaunting, gloriously, that most un-hipster of qualities: unselfconscious enthusiasm. Which, considering that even the spirited 'Dominos' seemed a bit joyless, is a revelation. Besides anything, the prospect of a chart-topping pop band with a bohemian background (well, they know people like that) is something to be glad for in January.