Timber Timbre

Sincerely, Future Pollution

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If 2017 proved anything, it's that there are endless ways of making protest music. On Sincerely, Future Pollution, Timber Timbre take a poetic approach to expressing political discontent; though they've couched their messages in vintage sounds before, they've never done it quite so pointedly. After reinterpreting '50s doo wop on their self-titled debut, '60s folk on Creep on Creepin' On and '70s funk and country on Hot Dreams, for their fourth album the dial on Timber Timbre's time machine lands on the '80s, and the band excels at subverting the decade's excess and artificiality. By combining fake sounds and real feelings into ultra-smooth sketches of corruption, they create a vivid world full of grifters, sewers, and floating cathedrals. Recorded in Paris with vintage equipment, Sincerely, Future Pollution doesn't so much revive the '80s as reanimate its bloated corpse. Timber Timbre mix and match a wide array of the decade's cool and uncool sounds into songs that are equally familiar and disorienting; on the narcotized opening track, "Velvet Gloves & Spit," luminous synths land somewhere between Bryan Ferry and Foreigner, though Taylor Kirk's velvet drawl puts the song closer to the former than the latter. The disconnect between Kirk's voice and his surroundings adds another layer of surrealism to songs like "Western Questions," where he sings about being "at the counter of a luxury liner with a noose in my hand." Timber Timbre remain masters of production and arrangement, and they find ways to impart the spacy strangeness of their earlier work on Sincerely, Future Pollution's neon sounds. "Bleu Nuit" pairs the glossy pseudo-sophistication of sax and gated drums with rippling synth arpeggios that sound like they're from another dimension, while the title track could be a mildewed outtake from Jan Hammer's Miami Vice soundtrack. Elsewhere, the swampy, reverbed guitars on "Sewer Blues" and "Floating Cathedral" recall Angelo Badalamenti's music for Twin Peaks, another '80s cultural artifact that was revived in 2017. Still, Sincerely, Future Pollution is at its most gripping when Timber Timbre fully commit to reinventing '80s cheese and glitz. "Moment" is as genuine as it is schmaltzy, with Kirk's tenderness and frustration building to a peak that culminates with a virtuosic guitar solo that sounds like a mirror twin of Phil Collins' "Don't Lose My Number." "Grifting" is another standout, a piece of rubbery funk indebted to Scary Monsters-era Bowie that holds its own when it comes to detached debauchery. Turns like these emphasize what an unusual album Sincerely, Future Pollution is, even by Timber Timbre's standards; despite its flashy sounds, it's one of the group's most insular sets of songs. Nevertheless, Kirk and company express how the past can poison the present and days yet to come in ways that are uniquely theirs.

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