Released September 9/29/2017
Mackenzie Scott AKA TORRES followed the exact same formula for this record, Three Futures as she did on her previous Sprinter; same studio, same producer (PJ Harvey’s longtime producer as well). But she took things a lot further on TF, her overall sound is more cohesive, packaged tighter and more efficiently, The mood Scott has chosen moves through each song beautifully to the next. The beginning of each song is urgent, even if the beat itself is slower, you feel as if you’re having an intense moment with her and you need to pay attention to every word she says, each space between songs is a dramatic pause. She plays on the idea of alternate realities, and alternate personalities throughout the album. Scott is questioning the life she chose, or more appropriately the life she has on this record, and that seems to be the overarching theme on this record.
Right away the beauty of her songwriting and composition of “Tongue Slap Your Brains Out” makes you stop what you’re doing to listen attentively. She grabs you and forces you to feel her comfort or discomfort rather, throughout, but there is something comforting in that. The opening track as aforementioned, is beautiful. A rather quick beat leads into the song and Scott has mentioned she recorded sounds of her walking and used those beats in her entire album, this is especially evident on this track. Something that I’ve grown to count on Scott for in her music is her ability to write for lack of a better, creepy, lyrics. In “Tongue Slap Your Brains Out”, she says
“No feeling like finding a peach cobbler sunning belly-up on the granite
The kind that’ll make your tongue slap all your brains out”
That’s probably my favorite verse from the whole album. Something about the almost unsettling image of finding spoiling food in the sun, and making it nostalgic is beautiful.
“Skim” is easily the strongest song on the album, and was also very appropriately the first single released. There are so many elements that make this song so stunning. The intros pitchy static is disturbing at its best. Next are the lyrics that shape the song, “I’m only the skim of what has already been I know every tense in which I cannot exist yet” a thought provoking and almost seductive statement. Torres lays everything out to scare the listener and by doing so makes them feel they need her, which is what she wants. This song in particular also has so many changes and shifts in tone and pace creating its own world, and the guitar riff at the end is everything you would want to hear from a guitar riff.
“Three Futures” and “Righteous Woman” are soft ethereal pieces, and ones that fall into the theme of alternate personalities of the self. In these songs Scott isn’t necessarily her best self, perhaps she the worst version of herself. They both somehow manage to self deprecate Scott, she accepts her self-sabotaging nature and chooses to work it as angle, all while still captivating you.
“Helen in the Woods” is a spooky song to say the least. A horror narrative serves as the lyrics and gives the record more of a pulse, a pacing one at that. Scott isn’t afraid to glide between singing and screaming, and as her voice raises, her guitar playing becomes more manic.
Towards the end of the record Scott begins to slow down again and ease out of this hectic realm. “Marble Focus” is another standout track. Five minutes of an atmospheric beat and Scotts more raspy hushed voiced have almost an ASMR effect. There is a two minute long outro of her muffled vocals and a soft stretched out guitar, and a simple beat reminiscent of a heartbeat creating one of the most beautiful instrumental moments on the record. A warm moment to take in and feel this particular reality.
She picks up the pace again and the urgency on “Concrete Ganesha” to keep us on our feet. Guitar distortion on this track shine over something in the likeness of a Gregorian chant. A solid moment.
The eight minute long finale “To Be Given a Body” has a soft hollow force that ebbs and flows all the while intermingling with a stifled beat that sounds like it keeps tripping over itself, in a good way. This song serves as a self reflection of the album, a moment to think about everything you heard and felt, and it is necessary.