Obscured by strange backstories, disguised behind the names Space and Vibes, the duo known as Black Futures thrive on mystery and deception. A collection of singles and high-concept live shows have given us a taste of their potential. With debut album ‘Never Not Nothing’ they’ve finally revealed what they’re capable of, and it’s very impressive.
While their story remains vague, their music certainly is not. Pounding beats drive the songs, synths add texture and an armful of electronics fill in the gaps. It’s clear and focused. Yet, everything has a full-band feel and sound. Notably, real drums make everything powerful, while earthy vocals keep everything grounded. Imagine simple punk-rock choruses filtered through Nine Inch Nails and you’re on the right page.
Given their approach, it’s a diverse but cohesive album. ‘Body & Soul’ and ‘Gutters’ really play on the snarling punk elements while ‘Love’ feels more like an industrial rave. Yet, no song is static, each evolves through its runtime and twists to a different place. On ‘Karma, Ya Dig?!’ the slow machine-shop grooves are stirred up by a buzzing bumblebee riff. It’s effective and focused, which is a real art. Similarly, ‘Youthman’ mixes slow melancholy passages with distorted cries and rattling oil-drums, stretching and distorting the song’s base like an elastic band.
For the most part, the lyrics are kept simple, which helps the songs feel catchy and effective. There’s also a wonderful line of cynicism running through the songs. Particularly, ‘Riches’ which can’t resist throwing out a political message bathed in sarcastic humour.
While they love a big chorus, equally there’s a challenging edge to many of the songs. A spoken-word piece adds to the upbeat ‘Me.TV’ and ‘Trance’ throws in a huge jerking beatdown in the end. Even the straightforwardness of indie-styled ‘Tunnel Vision’ is deceptive.
Exciting and uplifting with a complex, brooding edge, ‘Never Not Nothing’ is a storming debut album. Black Futures push their sound to unusual, interesting places but never lose sight of accessibility.
‘Never Not Nothing’ by Black Futures is released on 30th August on Music For Nations.
Words by Ian Kenworthy (@WhisperingSand)