“Let’s leave click-tracks, copy n’ paste and autotune to the kids. Future Elephants? is the real thing”! Those are the finishing words in the press-release for this record. And by those words, it’s not hard to guess in which genre this lot is dwelling. That they aren’t exactly 20-something in age isn’t that hard to figure out either. But no matter what, I dig that attitude. Autotune is Satan! And what about that name then? Future Elephants? With a question-mark. Well, bassist Anders Lundquist explained that to me not so long ago, but that night included wine. And beer. And a whiskey or two. And it got late. In fact, your’s truly’s wife had to drag your’s truly home early in the morning. So I don’t remember it all that well but I believe it had something to do with elephants are on their way to being endangered and that can be applied on musicians. Or something like that. Whatever, I dig the name – once you hear it, you’ll never forget it.
Who are these guys then. Well, Future Elephants? are four middle-aged (well..) men who decided it was time to rock out properly, like it was done back in the day. Lead singer and guitarist Roger Holegård was once a member of Sweden’s first real Hard Rock band Neon Rose, who released three albums in the mid 70’s and he formed this group with lead guitarist Dante Holmberg back in 2013. Bassist Anders Lundquist joined in 2015 with drummer Rolle Lindgren and in 2016 the band released their eponymous debut album to critical acclaim. When the band now delivers their second outing, Lindgren has jumped ship and been replaced by one Sigvard Frenzel, who actually played with Johnny Thunders for a while. Having not heard their debut album, I can only go by what the band says themselves and that is that the new record is more focused and melodic while the debut was based on jam-sessions that later turned into songs.
The album opens with the heavy, dark and dystopian “World On Fire”. With both its feet right in the early to mid 70’s, it’s a rootsy, organic and rough Classic Rock tune, quite saturnine but it also brings on a punch and attack. While not being the least radio-friendly or sing-along catchy, the big, fat chorus hits me like a ton of bricks. Did I write not catchy? Well, it’s obviously catchy but not in the sense of hit-catchy. It’s a killer tune and right there and then my expectations started to rise. On a more bluesy and earthy note on a meaty rhythm, the first single “Another Pint Of Ale” brings on a chorus that is very sing-along laden. This is a bonafide drinking tune where said chorus etches itself to the brain right off the bat but with that said, this isn’t remotely close to any “whoa whoa livin’ on a prayer” stuff. Quite the contrary, I actually get the feeling of a bunch of drunken pirates chanting for beer a long, long time ago. Irresistible!
“Stolen Credit Cards” – I wonder if the lyrics here are self-lived, about someone they know or just made up – opens with a captivating, heavy riff that is somewhat similar to Alice Cooper’s “I’m Eighteen” played by Tony Iommi. The song takes on a slower pace, rough n’ tumble and down-to-earth with a sullen outlook. The song mixes 70’s blues-based Classic Rock with some slightly progressive elements. With some beefy guitars on rowdy groove, the song isn’t very direct but after a few spins, it grew into a real winner. Very good. The same goes for the brooding “Peter_17”, a song about what might hide in the shadows of the internet – in this case a suspected paedophile. It’s a slow, spacey, 70’s styled ballad-like, creepy rock song that once again brings early 70’s Alice Cooper to mind at times. It’s somewhat melancholic, mellow and dark – a damn good song that sticks after a few listens.
Organic and earthy, “Free World’s Fallin’ Down” holds a slower pace and is quite laid-back. It comes with a chunky groove that brings 70’s Rolling Stones to mind but it also sends some gritty and edgy 70’s style guitar-riffing where Black Sabbath meets Led Zeppelin and it’s topped by a very melodic, almost pop-laden refrain that’s crispy and catchy. Some female vocals comes in as well which brings on a different dynamic feel to the song. Good one. “Magic Window” is a robust, meaty 70’s Classic Rock tune with a big chunk of Blues weaved in. It’s a bit trippy in the slower paced verses but the more upbeat break that comes in here and there makes the tune even more dynamic. Heavy guitar riffs and a bouncy rhythm combined with an in-your-face and catchy yet not hit-oriented refrain gives the tune a striking soundscape. Said refrain, is impossible to get off the brain once it’s there – very good.
The closing track – if you have the vinyl – is “A Last Farewell”, an ode to some of our fallen heroes that has passed away as of pretty lately. Some of the names mentioned on the cover is Malcolm Young, Tom Petty, Overend Watts, Ric Ocasek, Bernie Tormé and Ginger Baker, to name but a few. It’s a slow, earthy and laid-back ballad, sullen and saddening with some marching-band like drums to hold the rhythm. Still slow, emotional and moving, the tune gets heavier and upbeat towards the end. All in all, it’s a magnificent song. For you who get the CD-version, the last track is called “Bo-Toxic” and needs not to be explained further – the title says it all. It’s upbeat, beefy and punchy on an edgy groove in a Classic Rock mode yet a bit more classic Hard Rock laden. The chorus is probably the most direct and immediate on the album and goes right for the throat with a big punch. It’s probably my favorite song and I don’t think it should have been a bonus track!
First of all, it needs to be stated that this album is a grower, it will most likely not stick with you by first listen – for me it took a few spins. I never thought it was bad but the first listen was only ok, but then it started to grow on me. Sound-wise, this album is raw, organic and it comes across as a band playing live in the studio with very few overdubs – everything seems to be done the way you did it in the 70’s, maybe they even used tape instead of computers? One-takes? Maybe even so. If blues-based, gritty Classic Rock/Hard Rock is up your alley, you’ll have a lot to digest here – if you have the patience enough to let it the album live with you for a while. As I wrote, for me it went from only ok to an album I listen a lot to and those are the records that usually will be with us for a long time. The future looks bright for these elephants and hopefully it will be bright for the actual animals as well. I need to check out their debut now…
1. World In Flames
2. Another Pint Of Ale
3. Stolen Credit Cards
5. Free World’s Fallin’ Down
6. Magic Window
7. A Last Farewell