Prepare yourself to be propelled into an indie-psychedelic light show, where the stars just within arm’s reach and every color in the spectrum glides and coalesces around you. Future Past Life, the latest album from STRFKR is filled with soundscapes that could fool you into thinking you have synesthesia. Its songs are primarily grounded in pop, as most of it were written on acoustic guitar, but STRFKR has added in layers of synths and electronica to fill the space with an explosive nebula of bright and dreamy hues.
The album opens with “Dear Stranger”, where synth pads and a bubbling bass dance along with mesmerizing vocals. “Never the Same” has a folk rock swagger to it, with a lo-fi charm that sounds more like 60s-era Beatles than the modern indie iteration. “Deep Dream” starts off unassumingly, but slowly descends into a fever dream of cold sweat as the mix fills in with more and more tones and elements. Ending in an overflowing euphoria. “Second Hand” is deeply nostalgic. One of my favorites – it reminds me of a certain Tokyo City Pop song.
Also present in this album are minimalist tunes that take a little break from the Christmas lights to breathe in some air. “Better Together” is stripped down to the basic acoustic guitars and vocals, with synth embellishments in between. A languid but blissful stroll after a long night of dancing. “Palm Reader” is a lethargic cosmic dream. STRFKR plays with effervescent vocal harmonies in this short and honest tune.
Nearing the end of its runtime, the band stretches their compositional chops with more elaborate arrangements and song structures. “Pink Noise” starts off full of bright and wondrous sounds, but somehow they manage to pile on more and more layers after the bridge, creating a kaleidoscopic journey. An ever-engaging trip from start to end. “Cold Comfort” is a two part epic that starts off with the guitar under dreamy vocal harmonies, but slowly swells and builds up in color. It goes into different movements, and by the end I’m immersed in a vision of retro futuristic aliens and glittering unicorns before it veers off to the horizon.
STRFKR manages to build their own aesthetic without being too overbearing or unoriginal. They have their own way of infusing their unique signature of psych-rock and electronica while still keeping the song accessible with their pop sensibilities. Future Past Life is the perfect way to have a trip while staying at home.