I almost skipped the intro for this one because life is extremely busy right now, and I’m crunched for time while writing this. Sometimes I feel like it almost costs more energy to slow down and take a breather than it does to keep up with everything, but if there’s one thing that music lets me do it’s that, and that is kind of the whole point of Future Faces’ debut full-length Euphoria. It’s really an album about taking a second and letting it all hit you, absorbing the full spectrum of beauty and vastness that we inhabit.
The Swiss trio that makes up Future Faces previously put out the Revolt EP in 2017 that saw them take their proprietary blend of coldwave synthesizers and atmosphere and blend it with upbeat post-punk vibes. Euphoria, the band’s first full-length release, showcases an evolutionary leap in their sound, which you would expect from 3 years of patient practice. Touches of modern sophistication, new sonic colors and textures, and a deeper focus on layers and atmosphere help make this release stand out from their peers and also from their previous work. The blend of instruments here is seamless, with deep, resonant synths carrying the brunt of the sonic load, while jangly guitar melodies and touches of unexpected percussion serve to provide pops of color against the dark background and grounding when the atmosphere tempts you to space out. There is plenty to get lost in here, though. Layers of swirling vocals and ambient electronics move from dark to light and upbeat to laidback, blending together in a way that provides a lot more warmth, but also depth than their previous effort. It’s a pretty unique take on formulas that don’t often lend themselves to novelty or experimentation, but the success to risk quotient here is really high.
The front half of the album really revels in the deep, rich space that the synths explore. Opener “Radiant” jumps in with pounding percussion and prominent synth washes that slowly trudge into splashes of bells and other percussion instruments. I think the sparing but smart use of acoustic percussion over electronic instruments is what allows tracks like this to stand out. It’s not what you would expect when you first throw Euphoria on, but it’s what will stick with you once it’s over. The pace of the album quickens towards the back half, with cuts like “Halcyon” “Visage” and “Shallow” going in more of the traditional post-punk direction, with the latter two featuring much more prominent guitar melodies. “Nation” slows things down, but brings in what might be one of my favorite post-punk aesthetics ever: chorused basslines. Closer “Old Desires” rounds things out with gloomy synths and churning bass, bringing the album back around to where it started. Future Faces have clearly escalated their craft to the next level with this release, and it makes me very excited to see where they will take it in the time to come.
Euphoria follows in what is becoming a pretty nice trend of post-punk surprises this year. If this keeps up, 2021 might be the year that post-punk has a true renaissance, and I’m totally okay with that. It’s a very interesting album that begs to be fallen into. Make sure you have the time to properly devote to a listen. It’s an album that needs to have all the flows and nuances experienced as a whole unit, but when you do there are a lot of really pleasant surprises waiting in the folds.