With a pair of garishly overblown indie-pop anthems( “Velvet”, “Dominos”), The Big Pink stormed the charts and critics’ year-end-lists back in 2009 with their superb first album, A Brief History of Love. While they proved much more successful with the latter track (only “Dominos” charted, peaking at a modest #27 on the UK Top 40), the overall brazen ambition of that debut won the young pair of Britons – who are, for the record, Milo Cordell and Robbie Furze – the usual shower of comparisons to the usual smattering of their native forebears (The Cure, Joy Division, et al.) from the notoriously hype-happy British music press.
You couldn’t quite blame them for it, though: Of all the indie acts who seemed to be dusting off their copies of Loveless and Psychocandy at the time, The Big Pink were the ones most unabashedly aimed at pop stardom and stadium-sized success, both of which they took a considerable step towards achieving last year when they earned an opening slot on Muse’s 2010 European arena tour.
Fast-forward to the present day and the release of their second record, Future This, and not much has changed for Cordell and Furze. Armed with the same bombast that defined A Brief History of Love and the help of super-producer Paul Epworth and a handful of new tricks, The Big Pink turn in an effort that’s even bigger and more dramatic than their last outing. For the length of Future This’ three-quarters of an hour, the duo packs in as many soaring choruses and catchy hooks as you’d imagine possible. This time though, rather just than dialing into their shoegaze/noise pop forebears, the two pull from a variety of influences ranging from Daft Punk (on the proggy almost-house of the title track) to avant-gardist Laurie Anderson (whose vocoded coos the Big Pink sample to great effect on “Hit the Ground [Superman]“). Super-producer Paul Epworth – who’s proven himself one of the best in the game at making big sound somehow even bigger (his recent credits include the latest from Adele, Florence + the Machine, and Cee-Lo Green) – leaves his mark on the album, his sleek, skyscraping production proving a surprisingly good fit, casting the duo in a much different light than that of their self-produced debut.
This new light doesn’t exactly flatter The Big Pink, though. While Future This does improve on some of its predecessor’s weaker points – mostly by shaking off its tendency to meander in clumsy instrumental passages and the duo’s annoyingly sustained glumness – much of the record flounders unspectacularly, overstuffed with tired tropes and the same manicured, ultra-manufactured grit that marked A Brief History of Love. Opener and lead single “Stay Gold” announces itself with a tweeting synth line and a drum break (one that’s near-identical to that of the duo’s breakout single “Dominos”) before breaking into a series of big verses and bigger choruses that don’t let up until song’s end. The duo proceed to attempt the same thing for the next nine songs and 41 minutes, each chorus more over-sized, ridiculous, and (regrettably) forgettable than the one before it. That is, until the big, glimmering finish during album closer “77”.
Though they do occasionally switch up their formula, The Big Pink’s insistence on keeping their amplifiers and ambition turned all the way up to 11 for the length of Future This makes for a decidedly dull listen and one that’ll leave many fans hoping that the band will scale things back for album number three.
Essential Tracks: “Stay Gold”, “The Palace (So Cool)”