Welcome to Difficult Second Album syndrome, delivered in typical Big Pink style.
Martin Aston 2012-01-05
"Making noise" was UK duo Milo Cordell and Robbie Furze’s initial remit, with Furze’s former alliance with Berlin techno-punk ‘terrorist’ Alec Empire hinting at a possible template. So The Big Pink’s wall-of-sound pop classicism over synchronised, stomping beats came as a shock. Perhaps the fact they’re named after The Band’s iconic 1968 album that and Cordell’s dad is famed 1960s producer Denny showed there was more to The Big Pink than rampant modernism. And the brilliant Dominos – a single and the highlight of 2009 album debut A Brief History of Love – showed they had a natural propensity for pop rather than a dose of X Factor mimicry.
Future This – this time named after a 1980s skateboard advert – underlines The Big Pink’s status, as an old-fashioned synth-pop duo with added guitar scuzz, sub-bass growls and caffeinated energy. Not ‘noise’, but definitely loud, like a post-feedback Jesus and Mary Chain without the surf-pop fixation. With Paul Epworth (Adele, Florence, Plan B) producing and Alan Moulder (My Bloody Valentine, Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails) mixing, the album sounds fantastic – a gleaming, towering aural edifice. But the album’s construction – the pair began with beats and samples, then added instrumental layers and vocal melodies – is too easily transmitted; the tunes aren’t as memorable or, in some cases, are arguably born out of consolidating that debut album success. Welcome to Difficult Second Album syndrome.
It’s there in the first single and opening album track, Stay Gold, an obvious – and not as great – copy of Dominos. Rubbernecking follows the same pattern while 1313’s admirably chunky electro is also saddled with the now-generic Big Pink terrace chant. It’s left to the arrangements to carry the can this time. A spacier, swooning Hit the Ground (Superman) rubs shoulders with Give It Up’s robo-soul, built on a tweaked saxophone sample. The pizzicato motif of The Palace rubs strings with Lose Your Mind, which carries a distinct echo of 60s pulp classic Days of Pearly Spencer. Closing track 77 is one of the most striking here: mournful rather than brash, it’s evidence of a big pink heart and of these musicians’ ability to transcend their beats-based mindset. In other words, time for the boys to really future this.