The Seeds

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Future Review

by Fred Thomas

Though the Seeds' third album, 1967's Future, was pegged by critics as the band's attempt to ride the wave of baroque/psychedelic/orchestral magic the Beatles defined with Sgt. Pepper's, the recording was actually complete before the release of the Beatles' far more popular breakthrough album, making it impossible for the influence to touch the uncannily similarly minded flower power tones of Future. The Seeds had their own relatively huge smash with the raw high-pressure garage thumper "Pushin' Too Hard" the year before, and saw nothing wrong with recycling that tune's melody on more than a few songs on their first two albums. The melody and feel of that track is revisited on Future in the form of "Out of the Question" and the spooky organ of "A Thousand Shadows," but a deliberate attempt to move away from the band's by-the-numbers caveman garage rock toward something more experimental, spectral, and musical can be felt all over the rest of the album. While Sgt. Pepper's set a standard for this type of conceptual, genre-bending rock, other heavyweight contemporaries of the Seeds were already experimenting with injecting their straightforward rock & roll with mind-expanding psychedelia and uncommon orchestration. Love, the Zombies, Blues Magoos, and the Left Banke were all getting into flutes, Mellotrons, and harps by 1967, and the Seeds themselves had hinted at a classical influence with the haunting piano solo of their earlier classic "Can't Seem to Make You Mine." Though Future sought to expand on the raw approach of earlier albums with heightened musicality, there's no real concept to tie the various pieces together. Instead, listeners were treated to a pleasant if confusing mishmash of attempted statements. There are stabs at mind-expanding psychedelic mantras like the spare raga-esque guitars and muddy bongos of "Travel with Your Mind," indulgent string sections and random-sounding harpsichords on "Painted Doll" and the waltzy, tuba-heavy "Two Fingers Pointing on You," the aforementioned garage vamps, and all of the above on the obligatory seven-minute album-closing jam "Fallin'." While it's clear vocalist Sky Saxon and company were tuned into the electricity and open-mindedness of the burgeoning hippie movement, the various experiments on Future fail to ever congeal. Even in the most orchestrated, quiet, or overwrought moments, the Seeds can't quite shake their core personalities, sounding less like they're changing directions and more like they're donning a new costume with each song, never really settling on one look before just leaving in the clothes they were wearing to begin with. While the sidesteps into Technicolor psychedelia and overly serious orchestration are interesting and sometimes good, nothing has quite the same power as Saxon's feral howls or the burning fuzz guitar that escapes in the least calculated (and most exciting) moments of Future.

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