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Josh T. Landow

CD of The Week

Week of 11/13/17

    Torres - Three Futures (4AD)

    After exploring various interpersonal and metaphysical relationships across her first two records as Torres, Mackenzie Scott turns her gaze toward something more primal on the triumphant Three Futures: the relationship between body and mind and how they navigate need and desire both in sync with and in spite of each other. It's a welcome shift in perspective that expands her sound as well as deepens her songwriting.

    The album opens with "Tongue Slap Your Brains Out," another sound demonstration of what Scott perfected on 2015's Sprinter. The lyrics refer to reconciliation between who someone (Scott herself?) is now as opposed to who she once was, and more importantly, who she was to her mother: "I need you to believe that I'm still your same baby." Then it pivots to the lurching, longing first single "Skim," which depicts a dialogue between an insecure Scott and a lover that holds the latter's insecurity about her sexuality under the microscope. A chorus of "There's no unlit corner of the room I'm in" illustrates Scott's ultimate surrender and openness in spite of that insecurity. 

    Scott continues to explore different personae and narratives from there, embodying a horny teen boy in the title track one minute, a manspreading "ass man" in the propulsive "Righteous Woman" the next. As the protagonist in the songs keeps shifting, so does the Torres sound in ways not necessarily predicted on previous releases. Rob Ellis carried over from Sprinter in the studio, but like his iconic collaborator PJ Harvey, Scott has added brooding electronica to what was once solely (and successfully) a rock show. "Bad Baby Pie" pulses and percolates like peak Austra, while "Helen in the Woods" sports a malevolent motorik melody that is both tantalizing and terrifying.

    It's the album's final song, and sentiment, that best summarizes the success of Three Futures. Scott posits that "to be given a body is the greatest gift" over a droning keys and softly fluttering drum machine. With her third album, Torres sounds like someone taking full agency over and advantage of her gifts, and with them continues to build one of the most impressive bodies of work in indie rock. Whatever future lays in front of her, it sounds promising.

    Review by Rob Huff

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