How the “Dominos” Fell
British duo The Big Pink pretty much conquered the music world back in 2009 with their debut album A Brief History of Love. And yes, it set the bar so high that they can’t help but be rapped by the sophomore jinx on its follow-up, Future This. Yet the blow to their reputation is a glancing one, and the story of how Milo Cordell and Robbie Furze escape abject failure can be told in four chapters.
Chapter 1 is the rough-and-tumble intro to the album, where the duo want every song to be another “Dominos,” the Brief History track that melted listeners’ faces. “Stay Gold” in particular sounds like a continuation of that track, with a similar rhythm and key. “Hit the Ground (Superman)” features a cheeky interpolation of Laurie Anderson, while “Give it Up” is run through the ugly filter of ClearChannel alt-rock radio: The Naked and Famous, fun., MGMT, Foster the People, you know the drill.
An opening like that will doom any album. Stick around for Chapter 2, though, and things start to improve. “The Palace (So Cool)” and highlight track “13” mix loping, sad indie-pop with a synth-pop waltz and instrumental bluster like late-period Nine Inch Nails, respectively. Chapter 3 consists of the anthem “Rubbernecking” and what’s hopefully The Big Pink’s next big dance track, “Jump Music”—although, like that defining track “Dominos,” you wish they were one and the same.
Chapter 4 ties the album off with a trio of songs that come off like decent Europop; German and Austrian goths would be proud. So Future This really does have plenty of successes, at least on an individual-song level. It’s just that there’s no hint of a monster moment here. Taken with the long shadow cast by The Big Pink’s past, you’re allowed to be concerned that the band’s regressing to the mean.