Oliver Future is confusing me. I can’t really think of any other album that confuses me in quite this way. I mean yeah, The Residents is another kind of controlled confusion, but Oliver's is the unfortunate habit of inconsistency from song to song. Most tragically, these guys seem talented enough that they should be able to detect when their album comes off disingenuous.
Yo La Tengo and Clap your Hands Say Yeah! can attest to Adam Lasus’ talent as a producer before he made the move to LA from Brooklyn. Oliver Future moved from Austin to LA, and apparently their shared exile inspired an “LA” album. It was on this common ground that their shared love/hate relationship with their adopted city birthed Pax Futura. Not quite outcasts, the band does allude to being disappointed and out of their element in the city. On the other hand, their more positive numbers aren't particularly reassuring, failing to convince me Oliver Future are remotely content in their new home. There's neither an honest quip of helplessness, nor any added oomph of energy in their voices, so that the whole seems only united by its flat-lined lack of emotion.
The first track “The Many Things I Am Aware Of” is far from groovy. A slugged-through vignette only a minute and a half long, it comes off more as an intro to the second track than a self-contained piece. It's obvious that Josh and Noah Lit aren't talentless on “Signing Off”. Depicting two views on the apocalypse, Josh’s possibly better vocals give the song just a little bit more meat. Ahhh, the love song “Stranger than The Stranger” “Don’t you know it’s hard out here…” Well, yes, I do, Mr. Future. “…To treat me like a stranger.” So I guess this is their qualm with California women?
The best song is “Happiness Machine,” a simple guitar number sung with conviction about journeying, backed by tinkering percussion. “The Reclamation” is just a mess, with one of the lowest moments I've heard in a long time. Remember the New Radicals? Yeah, me neither. Well, there's an uncanny little resemblance about a minute into the song that will make you remember the New Radicals. The album peters out without a bang, and by the end you're ready to refund the last hour or so of your life. There are other songs I won't get into. True story: I listened to it in the car. I thought about laundry and food while listening. I got out of the car. I couldn’t remember what I was just listening to.