FutureNever is a place where your past, present and future collide – in the FutureNever the quantum of your past experiences become your superpower
Michael Dwyer suggests that FutureNever has more darkness, less varnish and more stylistic confusion.
Manic may be the best single-word answer to describe his new album. FutureNever has some of the whimsical, baroque threads of his last few albums – The Dissociatives with Paul Mac, his own Talk, DREAMS with Empire of the Sun’s Luke Steele – but a lot more darkness. There’s more purge, less varnish, more stylistic confusion and a default pitch that seems to come from the thick of struggle rather than the bliss of creative liberation.
While Andrew Trendell argues that what makes FutureNever ‘unmistakably Johns’ is the sense of vulnerability, curiosity and adventure.
While there’s a lot of Daniel Johns at his best here, this isn’t ‘The Best Of Daniel Johns’. There’s rock bravado throughout, but you won’t get a whiff of ‘Frogstomp’. Styles and eras clash, but ‘Neon Ballroom’ it ain’t. There is, however, a vulnerability, curiosity and adventure that makes ‘FutureNever’ unmistakably Johns. That kid who once asked you to wait for tomorrow is living in it today.
Nathan Jolly explains how the album sounds like a ‘number of separate projects played on shuffle’.
FutureNever feels like a number of separate projects played on shuffle. There are four songs that seem like offcuts from an aborted operetta, a few dance collaborations that belong on Ministry of Sound mixes, and a handful of tracks that split the difference between the slinky electro of his debut solo album, Talk, and his bright and loopy Dissociatives work with Paul Mac. There’s also a lot more guitar shredding than expected, despite this being very much not a guitar record.
Tyler Jenke elaborates on this in a Rolling Stone profile, in which he explains how the album is a combination of three different ideas.
Never one to stop writing or composing (he admits to having thousands of demos around the place), three separate records (which will remain unheard) had managed to make themselves apparent over the years. One, dubbed “The Modern Punk Record”, featured an electronic punk sound; another—”The Opera Record”—was self-explanatory; while “The Modern Electronica Record” featured the sort of futuristic R&B sound he had ventured into with 2015’s Talk.
Johns explains that he is not cohesive and that the album reflects who he is.
“I’m sure I’m going to get slayed in the press, because it doesn’t sound cohesive,” he admits, casually brushing off memories of past criticisms. “But I’m not cohesive.
“Some people are going to be perplexed because it’s not an experience of a record that I’ve ever done before. It’s more a collection of stuff that I’ve been doing while everyone thought I was dormant.”
At the end of the day, writing for Johns is about figuring things out.
I write music because I’m trying to figure out ways to get the shapes in my head into a sonic form. I don’t think I’ll ever stop because I don’t think I’ll ever get what I want.