Future Elevators and their self-titled debut album is the invention of Birmingham, Alabama born Michael Shackleford who was raised on music. His grandfather ran a music school in Birmingham, his uncle plays guitar for the Temptations, and his mother performed on a local variety television show in the 1970s and ‘80s. So you could say it’s in his blood.
The album is an interesting mix of sounds, hardly surprising as it was mixed by Darrell Thorp best known for Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief and Beck’s Grammy-winning Morning Phase. It kicks off with Rome on a Saturday which is reminiscent of Mew and the Beach Boys in equal measure with a twee 60s sound and harmonies: a promising start. Modern World (pardon the pun) has a more modern feel to it, or at least an 80s synthesised vibe. This is a gentle song with delicate intricacies of melody intertwined throughout. Losing Sleep is multi-layered with a sinewy guitar and is folky. It is slow but measured and feels like a summer rain gently cascading down. The vocals became deeper on this and it is all the more endearing for it.
Just Another Day has a lovely old-fashioned but timeless quirky quality to it. It is country sounding and Beck springs to mind on this one. His songs have a sweetness to them but are not saccharine. Alabama Song is also appealing with wispish vocals. It feels meaningful. Towards the end the song drops down a tempo and the line “Whatever you say it feels like home” gave me goose bumps with its quiet strength. The only problem I found was the song was too short. It was just getting more interesting and then it faded out, which was a real shame. This was a favourite.
On Machine Maker the album started to pick up momentum here. This was like a charming nursing rhyme with a lovely acoustic guitar played throughout and reminded me a little of the Eels. Track seven It is What It Is on first listen didn’t really leave an impression on me but it grew on me after a few listens and Everything Everywhere didn’t until about a minute in when a seductive Middle Eastern sound came in that seemed to jump-start the track and this then finished with quite a psychedelic rock sound.
Narcosis had delicate harmonies that started subtly then completely changed gear about two minutes in with rousing, swirly guitars. I really like the way he does this change of direction mid to late song. The only problem is again, I wanted this song to go somewhere and it just tapered off. In contrast to this ironically the final track Aphrodite is 10 minutes long. It’s like a vast aural landscape. It’s very cinematic, like you’re being filmed in space and moving through the galaxy eternally. I’m not sure what to make of it as in context to the rest of the album but does that matter? As a track on its own it’s quite meditative and restful and experimental.
As an album this is certainly a mixture of styles. It can’t really be classed in any one genre as it dips in and out of a variety including 80’s synth, folk-country and Beach Boys as all named above, but this isn’t a bad thing. There are some really engaging songs on this album. It’s just a shame some of them got to a really interesting part and then faded out. I’d have loved them to go on longer! It certainly leaves the impression of a quirky, diverse band who are not afraid to take risks in their music-making abilities.