Album Review: Black Futures – Never Not Nothing
With the world seeing problematic egotists rise to power, and with Brexit, border crises and climate change hot on the agenda, music has once again become an increasingly woke, politicised medium. But while for some playing the political game is a lot of sound and fury that actually signifies very little, for Black Futures, taking society’s ills to task is what their band was built for. With debut album Never Not Nothing, the duo have announced themselves with a brilliant collection of ‘future-punk’ (their words) songs that are very much a product of our troubled times.
Black Futures live up to their name from the outset, with opener N.N.N sounding like something you’d hear in some sort of outer-space nightclub centuries from now. Trance is a similarly innovative, sci-fi-esque number that’s submerged in a hazy euphoria – think Enter Shikari’s electronics combined with Frank Carter’s punk mania and Ministry’s industrial metal. It’s bonkers, but awesome.
For all this sonic innovation, though, the lyrics Black Futures have penned here are just as impressive as the music. Love – the best song on the album – is powered by a harrowing motif which repeatedly declares that we’ve got ‘10 minutes ‘til the end of the world’, in the process coming across like a panicked, apocalyptic radio broadcast, with the rapping of hip-hop artist P.O.S adding yet more venom to the band’s rabid sound. And speaking of guest spots, they’ve managed to get Primal Scream legend Bobby Gillespie to lend his talents to Me.TV. A call to arms against radical populism – ‘Everybody against everybody else / That’s your mentality’ – it’s a ripper of a track that builds to a gritty spoken-word monologue from Bobby and a frantic, riff-heavy conclusion. It’s a perfect demonstration that Black Futures know how to keep the energy through the roof as a song reaches its finale, something they further evidence via the rampant fist-pumper that is Gutters and its boisterous, up-tempo finish.
In contrast, the band also display a knack for more measured songwriting. Karma Ya Dig!? may possess a slower, subtler build, but this doesn’t make its razor-sharp guitars, pulsating drums or soaring vocals sound any less anthemic than the tracks that surround it. If anything, this more reined-in approach allows Black Futures’ manifesto of solidarity to shine through even brighter.
Our world, as this album’s lyrics often posit, can at times appear fucked. But with the sort of thinking Black Futures employ here – unity, finding proper, workable solutions and acting now – there’s hope yet that we may just dig ourselves out of the mire. And even if we don’t, in Never Not Nothing, we now have the perfect soundtrack with which to meet the apocalypse.
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