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Alternative & Indie - Released January 29, 2021 | Virgin Music UK LAS (P&D)

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 7, 2020 | Virgin Music UK LAS (P&D)

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 29, 2021 | Virgin Music UK LAS (P&D)

Steven Wilson fans have been primed for The Future Bites since he released To the Bone in 2017. That record, and the subsequent 4½ EP, were deliberately "pop" responses to his three-album dalliance with prog -- Raven That Refused to Sing, Hand. Cannot. Erase, and Grace for Drowning. In contrast to the above, The Future Bites is a slick exercise in Wilson's oft-articulated love of synth pop and electronic music. It's a loose concept set about the treachery that rampant consumerism foists upon the world, and the danger a technological society imposes on personal identity. Given the musical m.o. here, it should come as no surprise that the production on these nine songs is slick, even icy. It contrasts sharply with most of Wilson's songwriting that remains saturated in welcoming, effusive melodies and hooks. On most tracks, guitars and drums are subservient to keyboards and electronic rhythms and soundscapes. As usual, the studio cast is stellar. It includes keyboardists Adam Holzman and Richard Barbieri, bassist Nick Beggs, drummer Michael Spearman, sonic architect and beat maestro Faultline (David Kosten), and backing vocalists Wendy Harriott, Bobbie Gordon, and Crystal Williams. Set highlights include "King Ghost," which eschews conventional instrumentation in favor of dark, brooding, quasi-futurist electronics. They simultaneously reflect, "Memorabilia"-era Soft Cell, middle period Talk Talk, and Oil & Gold-era Shriekback. That said, the song's subtle, airy melody is infectious, nearly hummable above the layered electronics. "12 Things I Forgot" is the most formally constructed pop song here. It's framed by conventional guitars, organic drums, basses, and Rhodes piano, and glorious backing vocals from the Mystery Jets. The hooky melody walks a strange and circuitous path between vintage Todd Rundgren, early Aztec Camera, and Difford & Tilbrook. Weirdly, it contains a tagline hook straight out of Peter Frampton's "I Want You (To Show Me the Way)." "Eminent Sleaze" delivers a sinister muscular beat driven by a bass-and-drum vamp that eerily recalls Dr. John's "I Walk on Gilded Splinters" atop a spooky string chart and exponentially layered synthetic handclaps. Wilson adds a wonky Adrian Belew-esque guitar break, propelled by Beggs' nasty Chapman Stick and Holzman's restrained keys. The electro-disco of "Personal Shopper" channels Human League, Kraftwerk, and Giorgio Moroder. Its lyric is drenched in irony as Elton John reads from a shopping list of "shit you never knew you liked," including "deluxe box sets" (a piss take, both men are guilty of releasing them). "Man of the People" is a lovely, alienated, bittersweet ballad adorned by Barbieri's heavenly soundscape as guitars, pillowy beats, and atmospherics frame Wilson's lovely faux-soul vocal. In sum, those who had trouble with To the Bone, Wilson's well-executed homage to the progressive pop of Kate Bush, Tears for Fears, and Peter Gabriel, may have even more with this. Most fans, however, especially more recent ones, shouldn't find The Future Bites an inconsistent entry in Wilson's catalog, but an arguably minor one that steps sideways instead of forward. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 12, 2020 | Virgin Music UK LAS (P&D)

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 27, 2020 | Virgin Music UK LAS (P&D)

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 12, 2021 | Virgin Music UK LAS (P&D)

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 7, 2020 | Virgin Music UK LAS (P&D)

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Rock - Released March 22, 2021 | Virgin Music UK LAS (P&D)

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Rock - Released June 11, 2021 | Virgin Music UK LAS (P&D)

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Rock - Released March 31, 2021 | Virgin Music UK LAS (P&D)

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 12, 2021 | Virgin Music UK LAS (P&D)

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Rock - Released June 11, 2021 | Virgin Music UK LAS (P&D)