Future Self (Barsuk)
by Scott Deckman
On its website, Barsuk Records triumphantly states that The Globes‘ Future Self “promises to be one the best rock records of 2011.” While that’s taking things way too far, the odd, futuristic sounds found on this mini-album are interesting. (And yes, a mini-album generally consists of eight songs.)
Along with boasting an opening line for the ages (“Stay where you are, you’re surrounded by bears”), “Haunted By Bears” juxtaposes dreamy futuristic lysergica – plus clanging emotional uprising near track’s end – with quaint nature. After all, you can’t get much more natural than a grizzly in Alaska. And while growing up in Spokane, Washington, meant this quartet likely never came into contact with that particular brown beast (at least in those parts), they certainly could’ve woken up in the woods while camping and been surrounded by the grizzly’s smaller cousin, the black bear. Whichever large hirsute omnivore they had in mind, the song is a philosophical treatise on emotions and the way we deal with them – or don’t deal with them. It seems to prescribe working through your fears in a positive manner, because just sitting around stewing in your hurtful juices means the metaphorical bears in your head will tear your heart apart. It’s the mini-album’s strongest track.
Unlike space-psych troupes (Secret Machines and MGMT come to mind), the Globes’ psychedelia is only hinted at, and not the prominent part of their futuristic wail, but this isn’t immediate verse-chorus-verse hooks-and-riffs, either. There go the Nirvana and Aerosmith comparisons. Yes, your silly ass needs to take some time with the Globes.
The unremarkable “Pigeon” features bigger drums than you’d expect from a precisioned electro noise band – they self-describe as “progressive,” and it didn’t really hit me until reading that, duh. And while they’re not a noise band, they make ample use of keyboards and synthetics, as well as pull out some strange-ass sounds from their guitars. Single “Stay Awake” is aptly named, as it challenges you to do just that. I use the adjective somnambulant sometimes in my writing, and damnit if that description doesn’t fit the Globes singers, both of whom sound like they’re fighting sleep. Singer/guitarist Erik Walters’ voice is a bit redolent of the Eels’ Mark Everett and Red House Painters/Sun Kil Moon’s Mark Kozelek, while singer/guitarist/keyboardist Kyle Musselwhite sounds a bit like Jsun Adams from Pete International Airport, whose record I reviewed here not long ago. Drowsy singers must be the new black in indie rock.
While some of the music on Future Self is a bit unfocused and even monotonous, there are some moments of aural diversity. Just when you think they’re mainly an electro-guitar band without much bite, the Globes take us on quite a journey via the shapeshifting “A Stitch Couldn’t Save the World.” The song starts off noisy/quiet, then jumps to a mid-tempo lope, finally graduating to an alt-rock guitar attack, before heading back to their trademark lethargic whisper, only to again pound you with chunky guitars (think Hum circa 1995) like they mean it. But the little bastards aren’t through just yet, as they again pull back to quieter waters, only to end things with a funhouse bang.
So they play their own version of the Pixies’ loud-quiet-loud, but do so sounding nothing like the band in question, but more like many of the acts the Boston underground giant unwittingly helped birth in the ’90s. Did I mention some of their guitar tones are somewhat reminiscent of Sonic Youth, even old school U2 (don’t ask me how)?
Not a bad bunch of names I’m throwing around, but again, don’t wet your pants just yet, these neophytes still got a ways to go. For instance, I think the arraignment on “A Stitch Couldn’t Save the World” exceeds its reach. They shot for the stars and got the Fujifilm Blimp. But at least they’re trying.
As mentioned earlier, all throughout Future Self, the Globes employ the use of strange industrial noises which are either made by keyboard, computer, or guitar, likely all three; check out the peal on “Stay Awake,” which basically sounds like a piece of space-age metal being struck softly by a hammer. Hell, it may be a cowbell run through Pro Tools for all I know. This type of oddness colors much of the record. But to their credit, the Globes are a futuristic band who seem just as interested in the inner workings of people and their personal dynamics as the brave new world their sound seems to herald.
One final note, these guys are young, like early-20s young. To produce a work this mature (if inconsistent) this early portends of good things for the Globes. While Future Self isn’t great or even very good (very good as in: “the Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs is a very good record”), it certainly has merit. Let’s see how these precocious lads build upon this foundation.
Shine On You Crazy Nebula.