Torres

Three Futures

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AllMusic Review by

Torres' Mackenzie Scott described Three Futures as a celebration of the body, a concept that she extends to the cover image, where she sits with a direct gaze and a traditionally masculine pose, taking up as much space as she can. The music on her third album isn't always as blunt, but the feeling of being as present as possible is unmistakable. There was already quite a bit presence -- or at least guts -- on her previous album Sprinter, but as much as she brooded and raged, there was a theoretical quality to the album that gave it an intellectual distance. This time, Scott's songs seem to be coming from a more authentic place, even when she sounds like an alien exploring what it's like to be in a human body, as on "Righteous Woman," where the flesh wants what the brain knows will end badly, or on "Skim," where she asks "Can you probe the ends of the almighty/Did he hold your hips with authority?" before a distorted guitar solo erupts. Working once again with Sprinter producer Rob Ellis, Scott spends most of Three Futures delving into the quietly unsettling side of her music as she explores sensuality in its many forms. The album's sparse yet expressive electronics are pure and streamlined, conveying moods that are easier to feel than describe on songs like "Greener Stretch," "Marble Focus," and "To Be Given a Body," where they're allowed to swell and unfold in lengthy passages that express the importance of being in -- and being grateful for -- the moment. These refined sounds put the focus on the intimacy of Three Futures' words. While writing the album, Scott took inspiration from writers such as Lorrie Moore and Ta-Nehisi Coates, both authors with many dimensions to their work. Similarly, she imbues her lyrics with poignant, humorous, and sometimes cryptic layers: On the painfully beautiful title track, she fuses liberation with compassion as she tells an ex "I hope that's what you'll remember/Not how I left but how I entered" over warm synths that ebb and flow like breath. Later, on "Concrete Ganesha," she expresses dread in the most abstract terms: "You moved like a sunroom/Bracing for Sunday evening." Despite Three Futures' sophistication, the awkward parts of Scott's delivery are still there, and used even more effectively and affectingly, whether on the terrifying "Helen in the Woods" or the sweetly off-kilter love song "Bad Baby Pie." Moments like these are filled with life in a way new to Torres' music, and the fascinating ways she puts songs and stories together on Three Futures reveals more with each listen.

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