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Album Review: Torres’ Three Futures

Photo by NPR

Photo by NPR

On Three Futures, Mackenzie Scott, performing as Torres, is as feral as she is contained, balancing the unpredictability of her future with the regrets of her past. Controlled chaos has been a recurring theme in previous Torres albums, but Three Futures draws its focus on how desire commands the body and mind, and how this sensuality can distort our future. The album is often brooding and slow, allowing its grit to come out via heavy synths and dizzying guitar melodies, all accompanied by Scott’s commanding vocals.

“Tongue Slap Your Brains Out” opens the record with a skeletal marching beat and a yearning for Scott’s childhood in the state of Georgia. The track has her begging for her parents’ approval despite the fact she’s become a “damn Yankee.” The slow, Krautrock-like stomp of the track is very unlike the fast-paced New York which Scott roams today, making the song feel very much like a haunting flashback.

“Skim” then frames the past as a source of fear—specifically the fear of desire and the loss of control that accompanies it. It shines a light on the insecurity surrounding Scott’s sexuality, as the song’s music video shows dozens of female hands tugging at her body in a bright, rustic home.

Fear of the flesh is a recurring monster throughout the record, however. The guitars on “Righteous Woman” spiral downward with the low tones of Scott’s voice as she loses herself to fantasy. “Helen in the Woods” follows suit, albeit with more menace. Her voice is guttural and unpredictable, shifting through different pitches like only a possessed woman can. “Concrete Ganesha” is similarly apocalyptic, with a synth cutting through the middle that perfectly mimics a technological breakdown.

Three Futures isn’t without hope, though. “Greener Stretch” is quite literally about tilting one’s vision to see clearer, to visualize a brighter future. The synths on this track harmonize masterfully with the guitars in an orchestral fashion akin to Perfume Genius. “Marble Focus” floats similarly, just noticeably more detached. It is icy but longing, evoking nostalgia for things never experienced, like “mounting the wind” over Stonehenge.

 

Title track “Three Futures” plays like a ballad as Scott describes the unfortunate but necessary role fear holds in love. She holds back her fear of the future, or lack thereof, from her partner, ultimately ending the relationship. Scott hopes her lover remembers how things began rather than how they ended, making it thematically and musically similar to Sufjan Steven’s “Now That I’m Older.”

On “To Be Given a Body” Scott sounds like Sibylle Baier backed by a choir as her voice breaks through the ambient instrumentation in a way reminiscent of her background in church music. It breaks away from the complexities present on the rest of the album, affirming that despite the body’s temptations, it’s what allows us to experience our time on earth. Three Futures ends with Torres shelling away any hesitation, replacing it with the simple understanding that “to be given a body is the greatest gift.”


0 0 218 08 November, 2017 Articles, Entertainment, Featured, Music, Reviews November 8, 2017

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