By Daniel Strawhun, A&E Editor
Finding anything truly unique in the oversaturated and fragmented world of modern pop music can often feel futile. Technological developments in recent decades have made both the production and consumption of music hyper-accessible. Because of this double-ended democratization of the medium, it isn’t uncommon for individual listeners to feel inundated with an overabundance of choices and, at the same time, left with no dependable authority to aid in the filtering of said choices. The role of radio stations and record stores has been absorbed into the internet and replaced by streaming services and digital media marketplaces, which offer the listener an almost infinite number of unfiltered choices. There’s no denying it—listening to pop music now requires more work on the part of the listener than ever before.
Those who would enjoy a break from the tedium of sorting through all the internet has to offer should look no further than the Canadian band Timber Timbre, who released their latest album, “Sincerely, Future Pollution” earlier this month on April 9. The band’s previous efforts, totaling five albums, have earned them the folk genre designation; however, “Sincerely, Future Pollution” does much to complicate and frustrate this classification.
The range of detectable influences contained in this album is vast, spanning from Elvis Presley to Elvis Costello and touching down in multiple places in-between. Taylor Kirk, the vocalist and leader of the band, is a classic crooner, with a vocal style and range similar to that of Paul Anka. Like much of band’s previous work, the tone of “Sincerely, Future Pollution” is dark, with sparse, restrained instrumentation that adds an underlying tension to Kirk’s velvety smooth vocals.
One of the most notable differences between “Sincerely, Future Pollution” and Timber Timbre’s previous releases is the full incorporation of synthesizers and drum machines on the album, instruments typically featured in electronic acts but rarely used by traditional folk musicians. Then again, Timber Timbre has never fit the mold of traditional folk music, and the band has been known to experiment with instruments whose associations lie outside of that genre, for example, on the title track of the band’s 2014 release, “Hot Dreams,” whose ending features an unexpected and memorable swaying saxophone solo.
“Sincerely, Future Pollution” features two singles: “Sewer Blues” and “Velvet Gloves & Spit.” “Sewer Blues” is very much what its title suggests—a dirty, crunchy, blues-inspired track. The lyrics are downright haunting and fit perfectly with the tense disquiet that the instrumentation imports. In the second verse, Kirk sings “Better sing a money tune / Light a cigarette / Raise the roof above this ruin / As the song repents / Order of the underground / As the sewer runs clear.” The second single, “Velvet Gloves & Spit,” is the first track on the album. It features various synthesizers and a simple snare drum beat. Eventually, a plucky, treble guitar riff emerges and carries the song into the next track, “Grifting,” another highlight from the album. The song takes elements of new wave, like funk bass, and contorts them. It sounds like Talk Talk and Brian Ferry, but darker and more brooding.
“Sincerely, Future Pollution” is available through City Slang Records.