Once & Future Band by Once & Future BandRelease date: January 27, 2017
Label: Castle Face Records
Once & Future Band may reside on John Dwyer’s (Thee Oh Sees) Castle Face Records label but there is very little else in common with that band unless you count a freewheeling spirit to do whatever the hell they want. In fact, Thee Oh Sees sound positively sane compared to some of the more wilder excursions that Once & Future Band find themselves in.
A glorious amalgamation of ELO, 70’s prog, jazz and elevator muzak, Once & Future Band take all those influences and turn them up to 11 in what is, at times, the most wonderfully weird listen. Not ones to shy away from a harmony or two when the mood takes them, they could possibly lay claim to being the missing link between Jeff Lynne and Wayne Coyne.
They do verge on the sugary at times though, as opener ‘How Does It Make You Feel’ attests. A full blown pop symphony that stays this side of palatable by being such ridiculous fun. As far as opening gambits go, they certainly make their mark. With an abundance of ideas within its few minutes, it leaves you quite breathless.
Things do calm down somewhat, and for the next few songs you are treated to an exercise in symphonic prog which never loses touch with its core pop sensibility. Lyrically, the album is excellent and retains an intelligent edge within the bouncing melodies. There’s a surrealism matched by moments of singalong grandeur, before their “subtle machinations” lead you down the rabbit hole of music they create.
‘Rolando’ reverts to sophisticated jazz, bringing an abrupt end to the glorious montage of pop. It jars at first but does provide a moment of reflection on how talented the band are. It’s a brief enough foray though and with a moment of pure 70s muzak, we are on to the home stretch of ‘Tell Me Those Are Tears Of Joy’.
The album kind of stalls a little now and although it’s commendable to see the band approaching more darker fare, you long for the crazy abandonment of the first half. That said, ‘Magnetic Memory’ provides a lovely chilled coda to an album which hits you from all directions. You are left with a smile on your face and a gladness in your heart.
Keep an eye on this band, they have something really special. They may be uber-70’s in their approach but their blatant love of all the bands we secretly love makes them something akin to a guilty pleasure. The only guilt you get here though, is that you are not listening enough. Very rarely a band comes along which stops you in your tracks. Once & Future Band are certainly one of them and we look forward to seeing what they produce next.