November 21, 2014
The Future Of What
(Kill Rock Stars, 1995)
Whereas New Plastic Ideas is a particularly insular sounding record, the following year’s The Future of What is much more expansive. This is partly because Steve Fisk’s production takes quite a jump between the two records but it’s also a sign of the band’s growing confidence. The second track ‘Demolished’ could easily be mistaken for a belonging to a pop-punk band who owes a lot to say Husker Du. Unwound were clearly never a band afraid to take risks, this gets more apparent as they progressed, but sometimes the biggest risk of all is just writing a really terrific pop song.
Elsewhere, Future is responsible for some of the band’s most majestic and crushing moments. ‘Natural Disasters’ is a beautiful song which is constantly building in momentum with Lund’s drumming jumping out of the stereo and Trosper’s intrepid vocals. Meanwhile ‘Descension’ travels in almost entirely the opposite direction, as the title suggests the guitars work by sliding down the scale to evoke one of the band’s most delicate (yet noisy) moments.
(Kill Rock Stars, 1996)
By 1996 Unwound had released 3 brilliant records in as many years and were ready to deliver the knock out. Repetition is a masterpiece, let’s not beat about the bush. Years of hard work and toil give birth to twelve beautifully streamlined and forward thinking songs. At this stage the band were so on point with each other that the songs feel fresh and natural regardless of time signatures or multi-layering.
‘Lowest Common Denominator’ is a dark and seductive track built on a discordant drum and bass line but grows to become one of the bands’s most melodic moments. ‘Fingernails On A Chalkboard” and ‘Murder Movies’ work on the same high octane energy, while with ‘Sensible’ they even dare go for a Fugazi-esque dub instrumental and still somehow get a way with it. As usual though, it is at the record’s heart that we uncover the real beauty – “Lady Elect’ is quite possibly the band’s finest achievement. Built entirely around Trosper’s guitar, it is a soulful, touching song that sees him fully distinguish himself as the excellent frontman and guitarist he had always threatened to be. When the song hits its turning point half way through, it is just about the most breathtaking moment on any album by any band.
The Future Of What and Repetition are compiled in No Energy (Numero, 2014). Check it out here.