BAD BRAINS: INTO THE FUTURE (2012)
1) Into The Future; 2) Popcorn; 3) We Belong Together; 4) Youth Of Today; 5) RubADub Love; 6) Yes I; 7) Suck Sess; 8) Jah Love; 9) Earnest Love; 10) Come Down; 11) Fun; 12) Maybe A Joyful Noise; 13) MCA Dub.
Unfortunately, Adam Yauch was prevented from producing the next Bad Brains album by his death from cancer in 2012. Consequently, the band produced the album on their own — exactly the same way as Adam would have produced it, or so they thought, dedicating the record to his memory. Supposedly, Into The Future refers to the future of the Beastie Boys' legacy, and maybe to Yauch's future life and achievements in Heaven, than to Bad Brains' own future — which, by the looks of this album, does not seem too different from their past.
In fact, by this time we pretty much have a stable understanding of what a «late period Bad Brains album» is supposed to sound like: a loud, clean, meticulously sanitized mix of hardcore, metal, and reggae with a middle-age spiritual undercurrent. The latter bit seems ineffective — I am not sure how many people there still remain to seriously care about H.R.'s preaching: if lines like "The youth of today / Is the man of tomorrow / They don't live in tears / Beg, steal or borrow" seem promising to you on paper, H.R.'s grinning joker-tone may add to the promise, but then again, it might not — by now, it is so completely predictable in its theatrical poise that the original «mystique» is in danger of mutating to «irritation».
The thing is — as long as Bad Brains were young and keen on following their basic instincts, and also as long as they were playing beyond top speed and on the verge of chaos, they had intrigue: even if you were not wooed over by their playing style, there definitely was something intellectually incomprehensible about their music. But now, just take a listen to the title track. Its melody is deliberately stuck somewhere between old school garage rock and new school hardcore, each chord polished and dusted off as if this was an introduction to the friggin' «Well-Tempered Electric Guitar». Except that the chord sequences hardly display any freshness or originality: this is discipline without verve, a soul-free pro job that no longer has any musical meaning.
Perhaps this point might be even better illustrated by a song named ʽFunʼ — although it is about as far from any real fun as a Celine Dion ballad. Generic thrash metal chugging alternating with languid distorted power chords, set to a rather silly mantra ("Let's have fun, we all need fun, and this music is fun, school is fun, love is fun") — unless they actually think it's ironic, which it is not, this is one of the least appropriate anthems to fun-making that I have ever heard. If you listen to it long enough, it may begin to seem catchy, but the trick is that a properly catchy song has to catch you with an emotion, not with repetition. And what is that emotion?
Overall, I refrain from any judgements on this record, just like I did with its predecessor. It is formally listenable, even the posh reggae numbers with amazing titles like ʽJah Loveʼ, but emotionally and intellectually, it is basically just a blank, and both of the key members are to blame — Dr. Know just seems content to sit on his legacy, and H.R., having said goodbye to his old madman image... is really just a Paul D. Hudson like any other Paul D. Hudson in the London area.
Check "Into The Future" (MP3) on Amazon