A few months back we received a promo request for this oddly named band. The promo people recommended the band for fans of Sonic Youth, Silversun Pickups, and Autolux. I enjoy all three of those acts, so i downloaded the LP and put it on my phone. Over the past few months, songs from Our Future Selves have been bubbling up from the random flow of music and into my consciousness, so it's time for a review.
This is the second album from the Oakland-based four-piece. I had never heard of them before, so this is my introduction. Their music is characterized by really clear and precise drumming (courtesy of John Krohn), hushed and harmonized vocals that remind me of the 1970s pop influence on bands such as Sealions, and tinkling guitars in layers. It's a simple mix, but it works nicely.
The album starts with Be Kimball which features crunchy guitar riffing and that lovely drumming over the voices in a dull roar, a sort of blurring together of the voices, buried in the mix, letting the guitars lead. As the song grows, it gets more and more complex, with piano, e-bowed guitar drone, a section of finger snapping, and radio static samples. It's seven minutes long, so while that seems like a lot of stuff, the band makes it work.
The title track is up next, and this is a much lighter song, almost delicate. The drums are scattered and the bass lays down a nice groove over tinkling guitars. But then, in the middle of the song, there is a moment where the guitars and keyboards retreat to a bare drone, the drums thud away loudly, and it sounds like all of the band members are standing 10 feet away from the microphone chanting. It's a truly lovely moment, and unexpectedly beautiful.
Shuteye Unison get their Sonic Youth on during Better Hallway Vision. This starts as a fast-paced indie rock tune, but gets progressively noisier and heavier, until at the end the band are riffing away in a heavy manner that would not have been out of place on Washing Machine. If you like that sort of thing, then this is a fine example.
Swear Words is, ironically, a slower, happy pop song. The drumming is scattered, the voices hushed, and the guitars chime like on a song by Hammock or Lights Out Asia. Very nice. Traffic Hymn is vaguely similar, with a faster pace.
War Feathers mixes it up by being a little dronier and noisier than poppy. One guitar grinds under a layer of static while Krohn pounds his toms and the song meanders under a bit of odd keyboard dronish tension. The tension continues in Portable Rome, where grating see-sawing noses create a drone under the guitars. The voice is hushed, almost whispered, and the guitars grind in slow distortion. It builds to a thunderous climax, then slowly fades out, a keyboard drone that wavers until it is swallowed by the sound of some sort of children's choir, echoed and distant. The ending is kind of eerie, to be honest, but nicely done.
When the children's voices fade out, Shuteye Unison get their stadium rock on. Camouflagers is an epic tune, with big swelling guitars, Krohn punishing his kit, and the whole band bringing their best. This is noisy indie rock done on a grand scale. The bassist shines at the start of Century M, picking out a slow melody while e-bowed guitars drone. This song continues the epic and big feel of Camouflagers, although in a dronier way.
Finally, things wrap up with the two minute outro PFF070810. This is a faint electro rumbling and light drone that sort of fades the whole record out on a pretty note.
Overall, this is an impressive album. The recording is excellent, bringing to mind the careful and precise production that Brian Paulson did on Fin Fang Foom's Monomyth. This is an album to listen to on headphones, so that you can hear all of the various layers playing against each other.
The band also really know what they are doing, and if Camouflagers is an indication, they can go really far.