ALBUM REVIEW: Future Lovers (BANKS ARCADE)
ALBUM Future Lovers // ARTIST Banks Arcade
On the debut album Future Lovers from Melbourne-via-New Zealand band Banks Arcade, the future of modern heavy music is here - and it's explosively thriving.
From the ashes of a global pandemic, a sharp, fresh and immersive new album has emerged from Melbourne-via-New-Zealand-based quartet Banks Arcade. A group relatively short in existence but with an extremely bright future ahead, Banks Arcade meld hues of metalcore, electronic, hip hop and hard rock into their ever-polished avant-garde approach to all things music. And while their maiden full length album Future Lovers, due out next Friday 29 July via UNFD, was initially planned as a concept album, the unexpected reality of creating during lockdowns and isolation whilst actively shedding expectations along the way has resulted in a sturdy and forthright official introduction for Banks Arcade as they turn their gaze to the future of modern heavy music - and, ultimately, their own evolving sonic identities.
Kicking off with the haunting, piano-laden title track, Future Lovers quickly shifts gears with menaced soundscapes and electronic flavours via Freaks. Showcasing frontman Joshua O'Donnell's diverse vocal chops, the dense moodiness of Freaks gives way to the high-octane Fake Your Death. A particular standout on Future Lovers, Fake Your Death was also the birthplace of the entire album, with O'Donnell revealing in the band's official album biography that the track marked the pivotal moment where he actively branched out to seeking and including new and unexplored styles into his writing; and thus, the current Banks Arcade sound and aesthetic seen throughout Future Lovers was solidified. Amongst hip hop production and oscillating textures, Fake Your Death deals in unbridled ferocity mixed alongside sparser moments, and would undeniably tear multiple roofs off in a live setting.
Grooves are on the menu for Smile, with some swaying savagery and leering metalcore flavours coating more futuristic elements throughout, with the aptly named Ether bringing an ambient, electronic breather before Spark bustles in next via some oscillating and highly polished light and shade. Heartfelt vulnerability takes centre stage next on the emphatic Be Someone; a slower burn than many other tracks on Future Lovers, but one that readily flexes the group's eclectic craftsmanship and hard-hitting thematics, with O'Donnell lyrically detailing notions of hopes, dreams and expectations throughout.
From a billowing ballad-esque moment on Be Someone, Used pumps up the punch, offering an angsty bop and infectious ode to self doubt in the modern age that embraces alt rock riffs and upbeat melodics with gleeful abandon. Presenting yet another Banks Arcade pearler that would spark some beautiful chaos at a live show, Used journeys next into the neon metalcore rager System Failed. Packed full of Northlane-esque intensity mixed with a particularly commanding showing from O'Donnell, System Failed also offers a chance for O'Donnell and fellow guitarist Jason Meadows to shine their fiery riffs before the hip hop stylings of Trip unfolds. A track that significantly hints at O'Donnell's formative years immersed in hip hop culture in New Zealand as well as the band's overarching futuristic leanings, Trip is a focused slice of modernity, shedding the heavier tendencies of System Failed elegantly before seguing into the frenzied delight that is Don't Start.
A short yet sweet hard rocking ode to confidence and ignoring the haters, Don't Start also marked the band's debut single on their new home UNFD with a bang upon its release thanks to its brawling fuzz and frenetic energy. But, as Future Lovers begins to draw to a close, it's clear that Banks Arcade are well and truly in keeping with their reputation as genre-bending sonic architects, with the heartbreaker Medicine swinging in as the album's penultimate track before the soaring intimate might of Wine brings proceedings to a close, while also ending on a lyrical question mark, with O'Donnell musing "If I can live for moments, maybe time will fix the rest...".
While Future Lovers is yet to officially unveil to the world, in true forward-facing Banks Arcade fashion the band have already been making literal tracks for their next chapter beyond their debut album, with the group publicly revealing they have already recorded a follow up full-length while they were recently in the UK. Regardless of what comes next for the group, who also recently stormed the stage at UK's Download Festival and will be supporting In Hearts Wake for a huge 27-date regional tour later this year, one thing is for damn sure: Banks Arcade are a breath of fresh and ferocious air in the heavy realms, and if their first ever album release is anything to go by, we're set to see and hear a hell of a lot more from this quartet in the not-too-distant future. For a band whose first ever lyrics penned were "I always wanted to make history", Future Lovers is an upright introduction to an undoubtedly bright legacy to come. For the current and future lovers of Banks Arcade, this is a must-listen album.
BANKS ARCADE'S NEW ALBUM FUTURE LOVERS IS DUE OUT ON FRIDAY 29 JULY VIA UNFD.
FOR MORE ALBUM INFORMATION, VISIT: unfd.lnk.to/FutureLovers
FOR UPCOMING TOUR INFO AND MORE, VISIT: www.banksarcade.com
CONNECT WITH BANKS ARCADE:
BY TIANA SPETER