Listen Up: Wednesday, May 09, 2007
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Future Clouds and Radar

Future Clouds and Radar (Star Apple Kingdom Records)

By Jimmy Fowler

Have you ever gone out on a first date with someone, hit it off immediately, enjoyed unexpected hours of heartfelt conversation and some sizzling slap-and-tickle — and then discovered the next time you hooked up that the possibilities had been exhausted? It’s akin to the experience of listening to the eponymous debut release by Austin-based art rockers Future Clouds and Radar. What seems precocious and charming at first listen — two discs comprising 27 songs, most of which were conceived, co-composed, and sung by ex-Cotton Mather frontman/guitarist Robert Harrison — proves merely burdensome on a second spin, where it becomes obvious that Harrison and his bandmates have overloaded Future Clouds and Radar with sonic wankery: Off-tempo or oddly metered instrumental intros and segues, and motifs should’ve been saved for release 20 years from now on some FC&R completist’s boxed-set. In fact, the best of these lush-and-jumpy, elaborately melodic pop numbers suggests that the group could indeed build a long-term career making symphonic ear-candy with humor and heart. Both “Wake Up and Live” and “You Will Be Loved” are sterling, utterly non-obnoxious up-with-people anthems, as Harrison seems to be using his puckish vocals to console a particularly despondent friend. The pulsing “Get Your Boots On” is propelled by a “Heart of Glass” style disco drumbeat before dissolving into manic-happy guitar spasms. But “Dr. No” sounds like curdled Lennon-McCartney studio mischief; “Christmas Day 1923” bogs down in a slow-tempo gravity that its annoying, portentous la-la-la gospel-chorus ladles on too thickly. Future Clouds and Radar offers too much of a good thing — inventive artistry-for-artistry’s-sake — but if Harrison and company dig in and make discipline a priority on future releases, they might just be around long enough to earn a boxed-set of FC&R marginalia.


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