Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Review: Futures - The Karma Album




With The Karma Album resting in my hands, I can’t help feeling like this has been a long time coming. A band I first discovered by happy coincidence when they released their debut ep ‘The Holiday’ for free with Rock Sound magazine back in 2010, I was convinced that we had a new great rock band in our midst. Trading in sky-high choruses and business savvy (giving the magazine some of the highest issue sales of its history), they seemed destined for longevity.

Fast forward two years, and Futures are a band still teetering on the precipice. Having signed and then scrapped a deal with Mercury records citing supressed opportunity, the songs which make up The Karma album have been held up for well over a year, only available now the band have decided to go it alone.

Herein lies the problem. Some of these songs have been left half opened in the cupboard for so long that they’ve gone stale. The Boy Who Cried Wolf has lost the bouncey simplicity of its original, over-produced until its melds into mediocrity despite it’s contagious chorus. Islands In The Sea has undergone a similar treatment. In total, The Karma Album contains five songs that have been readily available for fans for several months (Start A Fire, Islands In The Sea, Karma Satellite, Say My Name, The Boy Who Cried Wolf). Unavoidable perhaps, but something that weighs heavy on it’s out-of-date substance.

Overproduced becomes a theme that defines The Karma album; Gil Norton has a lot to answer for. All 11 tracks have potential killer choruses that should be screaming and shouting to be heard, but yet they appear repressed: something seems shrink wrapped about the way they segue into one another. Karma Satellite and Million Lights make lead singer Ant West’s fanship of Coldplay obvious, the formers euphoric chorus and the latter’s vocal melody strongly reminiscent of the stadium fillers recent single Charlie Brown. They are tracks that make for great listening separately, but lack the personality needed to stand out beyond a few listens due to a predictable structure and chord progression. 


We Had It All breaks up the ‘Hello Wembley!’ show nicely, but it’s a malnourished cousin of Swim Teams, the gentle and touching song they released as a standalone a few months ago, as an apology for fans who had waited so long for the record. It seems poor packback to them now that such a great track is left off of their debut record, something that is meant to be the best introduction possible to a band.

It’s not all bad. Album bookends Start A Fire and Tonight We Had Love provide relief, two tracks that sound as if the baby reins have  finally been taken off, allowing the guitars to sound more like the Futures we know and love rather than montage music for a BBC3 Documentary. Whilst they might not reinvent the rule book, they are modern guitar pop anthems just as catchy as anything the likes of You Me At Six or Kids In Glass Houses are writing.

What Futures do very well is the whole fans package – the limited edition bundle of this album is visually beautiful, as it their high quality of touring merch. It goes to show that they do have a certain idea of what they are doing; they know the target market they are likely to attract, which in the case of this record, is both a blessing and a curse, causing them to forgo artistic integrity, bowing under the pressure of a fanbase clamouring for the record they have waited so long for.

 It’s a debut album that is a ticket to open for virtually any rock band in any arena in the country. And maybe this is all they ever wanted; after nearly 8 years of relentless gigging it would be hard to deny them their chance for a shot at the big time. But for a band who demonstrated such vigour and edge with their demo, it seems a shame to see them as they are here, polished beyond recognition.

5/10



4 comments:

  1. YOU ARE MAD. it's a perfect album and they've worked their arses off to get where they are! Every single track is brilliant, goodbye.

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  2. only kidding you're allowed your opinion, I and all the other futures fans can agree to differ..maybe

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  3. What the hell?? Are you on drugs! This album is perfect. I LOVE FUTURES <3
    Album is definitely insane. Goodbye!

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  4. Definitely have a lot of agreement with your opinion on the record. Gil Norton hasn't done them proud and in my opinion Peter Miles has a far better affinity with the bands style. What the album brings is fantastically written songs, but nothing to push them above the average pop-rock band out there which we might have expected judging by their EP.

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