Chronic Future

Lines in My Face

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In 2000, the youngsters in Chronic Future found themselves stuck in a crappy label situation, as Beyond Music disintegrated around them. Naturally, in the bent discourse of the record industry, Beyond's implosion didn't necessarily void the Chronic's contract. This impossible situation resulted in a lengthy, smelly legal wrangle. Luckily, however, instead of having to get jobs at Phoenix area sub shops, the bandmembers ended up out of their old deal, on Interscope, and owners of a more mature sound. It should be -- Chronic Future's members can finally rent cars legally. Whereas 2000's 4 Elements was still wired to a pretty standard rap-rock mainframe (311, Rage, etc.), Lines in My Face wisely paints from a fuller palette. Like other suburbanites raised on grunge, alternative, and Hype Williams fish-eye hip-hop, the Chronic have no problem mixing hues and washes from each of those genres. Incubus, Hoobastank, and RX Bandits have been successful with this same formula during Chronic Future's hiatus, so it's nice that Face is here to get a little recognition of its own. "Stop Pretending," the self-examination "World Keeps Spinning (A Chronic Future)," and "New York, NY" depart deftly from the by-numbers riff slap of Chronic past; MC Mike Busse seems to have incorporated a bit of Eminem's lyrical flow, and the addition of keyboardist/programmer Ryan Breen means songs can rely on more dynamics than the hiccup between "Get up! Get up!" and a downtuned D. Lines finds a workable formula in rangy, angry, or searching verses slipping easily into choruses of loud guitar and actual singing, but it also makes each song on the album unique, whether through wordy raps, thick distortion, or unlikely sonic detours. Highlights include the Foo Fighters-ish "Static on the Radio" and "Thank You"; best might be "Wicked Games," where moody synth textures set up a stuttering, surging chorus. It sounds like mid-'80s Depeche Mode covering P.O.D.

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