Given that YACHT recorded two albums for James Murphy’s DFA label, it should come as no surprise that the ideas behind their latest record I Thought The Future Would Be Cooler take aim at the future. Does anything, for example, sound like the noise of the future as much as punky dance-pop? That’s up for debate but it certainly lends itself to the idea of looking forward and suits the themes of the album. On paper, it’s all very promising.
Throughout the album, in fact, the music that accompanies the fun vocals of Claire Evans harks back to video game soundtracks of the late Eighties and early Nineties. That’s either a compliment or an insult depending on how much you love retro video game music. What it does serve to do is highlight the fact that this album is somewhat backward in it’s critique of the future. It sounds like someone from decades gone-by who is worried about the internet. The music here may still sound like the future, but much of the lyrics and themes here feel much like the past. In that respect, at least, it feels outdated.
This is all reading very deeply into what I Thought The Future Would Be Cooler has to offer. While the idea that the future isn’t quite what we were after isn’t new, it does inspire some very solid pop tunes. They recall Karen O and a Little Boots with much more substances and deeper themes. As a series of individual tracks nothing jumps out as being particularly poor. There are some tracks, in fact, that are absolutely worth giving a listen.
Take the track that you immediately gravitate to when you’re looking at the tracklist in ‘I Wanna Fuck You Till I’m Dead’. A look at the lyrics shows a deep contrast between a romantic line such as "the marvel of your skin" and something a little more jarring such as the chorus that takes its lyrics from the name of the song. You do fear though that what originally shocks and interests will quickly become forgotten over time. Still, it’s the song that I keep coming back to and the one that has wormed itself onto my playlists.
More about the record itches at you because of the unnatural contrast. When the lyrics of "mediated war zones and countries full of death" hit you with breezy post-disco it’s inevitably hard to decide whether you think the contrast works for the record and makes it stand out or whether you think that it’s just too much for you. This is something that continues for the vast majority of the album and invariably will be what decides what side of the fence you fall on with this record.
So I Thought The Future Would Be Cooler isn’t a bad record. The tracks themselves work if you can get past the contrast. That might even be what makes you love it rather than hate it. The problem is that if you’re going to have a deep concept behind your pop tracks then it really needs to be stronger or more current than something that has gone before. You can’t just repeat a statement that the world has already discussed to death and expect people to nod along sagely. For that reason, you can only conclude that the album would have worked better stripped of concept and just a collection of strong pop songs. It’s 2015 and it is okay to just make pop music.
Still, Claire Evans was never going to do that and it’s to her credit that she will continue to insist upon making music a little more deep. For the next record though, she needs to make sure she tackles something that’s gripping the audience. if you’re going to have these themes you can sometimes stray into the realms of becoming pretentious (as Muse found out with Drones) or, in this case, condescending. The world has come to terms with the fact the future ain’t quite what we expected it to be, and solid pop tunes aside, YACHT need to do the same when they next come to making a record.
5Luke Beardsworth's Score