Short album reviews by The Prog Yak. No puffery here, just a simple review and score from 1 to 5 yaks! Have a new album you'd like The Prog Yak to review? Let us know.
The Future Bites
No one will deny Steven Wilson is incredibly talented, and as with many talented artists who have gained some level of success, they want to spread their wings into broader areas musically. I have no problem with that, and any artist is free to move in whatever direction they wish. You and I, however, as the “consumers” (horror of horrors!) of their art, are then free to take the journey with them or not to whatever destination their whims next take them. I’ve happily gone on many of these excursions with SW over his career, but The Future Bites isn’t a destination that entices me to come along beyond a few listens.
The album is excellent sonically, as you would expect from Wilson, and is best enjoyed with some quality headphones, but I find most of the songs lyrically to be overly preachy and musically unengaging. The Future Bites is definitely not “prog,” but more dance, electronica and pop, and that’s not my reason for finding the album unappealing. Thematically it just feels far too condescending to the audience. Technology advances, people consume that technology. It’s not some sin or evil plot that we all should be made to feel guilty about.
This album feels to me a bit as if Beethoven had just written Twinkle Twinkle Little Star—a perfectly fine little song but might seem like such talent could be used for grander things. Listen to The Future Bites, then go listen to something like Thick as a Brick or The Wall. I just think SW could grow, change and expand in far more interesting ways.
There are some nice moments throughout, but I don’t think this album will be of much appeal to many of his current fans. Will they really want to see most of this performed live? That being said, he could find many new fans who would never have bothered with something like In Abstentia or Hand Cannot Erase.
I’m guessing Wilson didn’t need to use a metronome when recording The Future Bites, as his wagging finger probably did the job for him. The new woke kids generation loves that sort of thing, but for me, eh. 3.5 Yaks