The dark and unsettling features of Canadian band Timber Timbre should make for easy descriptions and anecdotes, but it's not that simple; they’ve gone and thrown synthesisers at the walls where folk tales and blues once hung. Sincerely, Future Pollution is dark, but it's not depressing. It has a gothic feel, but it's eerie, not creepy. There's doom without gloom - or is it gloom without doom?
Opening track "Velvet Gloves & Spit" sees the band exploring other dimensions within their world of downbeat, outside-the-box folk. The deep tones of singer Taylor Kirk aren't miles away from the ballads of Nick Cave, and it’s a similarly fragile setting, with the band offering simple beats too long, drawn-out synth notes. They briefly adjourn their cosmic explorations to throw in some '70s style funk, as if Stevie Wonder had walked in and laid down some "Superstition" vibes on "Grifting" and the instrumental "Skin Tone". It delights in taking the listener on another unexpected journey, of which the album offers plenty.
Timber Timbre have an ability to draw you in with soundscapes created through simplistic beats and synths. It renders a haunting, futuristic setting for Kirk to manoeuvre his sometimes malevolent tongue on Sincerely, Future Pollution. He gets you settled in their strung out dynamic, before well-constructed sounds of chaos and weirdness come crashing in all around you - the kind that, if turned up to ten, might just get the captives of Guantanamo Bay to talk (try and get your head around the second half of "Moment").
Talking of which, in a prepared statement from Kirk (via All Songs Considered) for the album's release, he discusses how his approach to writing has differed from previous efforts. "I hate to admit that normally I express more sensitivity than concern politically," he explains, "but I think the tone and result on the record are utter chaos and confusion. When we were recording, the premonition was that the events we saw unfolding were an elaborate hoax. But the mockery made of our power system spawned a lot of dark, dystopic thoughts and ideas. And then it all happened, while everyone was on Instagram. The sewers overflowed."
These ideals are strong in "Sewer Blues", while "Western Questions" hints at the political upheaval surrounding the band at the time of recording, touching on topics of power and segregation. "Stack up their green paper walls for the man of the year, I'm a hero of the human highway, I'm the saviour of the atmosphere, overdue by assignations, promoting racial vaccination and fear." So on point is Kirk here that sadly I can't give out any points for guessing the floppy-haired, blow-torched wax doll in question.
More electronic than their five previous albums, Sincerely, Future Pollution is an intense journey through the weird and the wonderful, with heavy lyrics of current world affairs all tangled and crooked among the sound of calm and confusion, as the band tip their hat further to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. It's an enjoyable listen first time round. Could I immediately listen again? Maybe after a lie down, and an Indian head massage.
Release: 7th April 2017, City Slang Records