The first album from multi-instrumentalists and London scenesters Robbie Furze and Milo Cordell, a.k.a., the Big Pink, was 2009’s impressive, and impressively large-sounding, A Brief History of Love, which featured the anthemic single “Dominos” (licensed by Xbox 360 and Skins, among others, and sampled on Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday). The follow-up, Future This, recorded last summer with producer Paul Epworth (Adele, Florence and the Machine, Bloc Party), goes even bigger and is even more packed with songs that stand to soundtrack the year.
Cordell (whose father Denny produced Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” and Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help From My Friends”), knows his way around a song and a studio. So here’s a bit of insight into how each of Future This‘ ten tracks came into being. Listen to our exclusive stream, and grab the album via iTunes presale starting Tuesday, January 10 here. Future This is available everywhere January 17.
“It’s the first track we wrote for the record — at least as far as the music and the beat, the lyrics came later. To us, it’s really the bridging song from the last album to this one. The main lyric comes from the S.E. Hinton book The Outsiders: “Stay gold, Ponyboy.” And that’s of course a reference to a poem by Robert Frost called ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay.’ I’ve read the book, but I think I prefer the film, to tell you the truth. The cast in that’s pretty ridiculous.”
“Hit the Ground (Superman)”
“And this was the last song we wrote for the record. I went to this Laurie Anderson exhibition in London and was talking to my brother, who’s quite a few years older than me, about the show. He remembered hearing the song on the radio in the ’80s and it seemed so out of place, but after listening to it, I immediately thought that I could loot this and put a beat behind and and from then on, I had this idea that the song would be about how there was never going to be anyone who was going to come and save you. You just have to do things for yourself. We had to clear the song with her, but I don’t know if she’s heard it. I couldn’t tell you.”
“Give It Up”
“Another track that’s kind of based on a sample: Am People? We cut it up and put a delay on the actual sample. It’s a song about being in a relationship where one of the people is holding something back. I guess I write a majority of the lyrics, but those are screened and edited pretty heavily by Robbie. As he’s singing it, he really gets into the phonetics.”
“The Palace (So Cool)”
“This is one of my favorite tracks on this album. On the first record, there was a song called ‘Crystal Visions,’ and this kind of thought of that as this world we created around ourselves. This time, there’s this place called the Palace, and it’s this place that we can blow up and get lost in. It’s the kind of make-believe that happens when you’re with someone, for better or for worse; it can help build a bond with someone, but it can also really isolate you from everyone else.”
“I guess it’s kind of like a desperate love song. There’s a lyric in it I quite like, ‘I will be loved or die trying,’ and that’s obviously a nod to 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Trying. It has this cool drum break by Paul Wentworth, the guy who produced the record.”
“Outside of the U.K. and the U.S., no one has any idea what the term rubbernecking means. In the rest of Europe, this doesn’t translate at all. But it’s just something I’ve always been fascinated by — rubbernecking on the motorway. The word and its association with what it is, it’s just so weird. It’s looking back when you should have your eyes on the road, but you just can’t help it. I think this song is about rubbernecking within a relationship, looking back at things that have happened before when you’ve got a good thing going and should be facing forward. But there’s that what-if, and you’ve spent so long looking backwards that you’re lost and you’ve missed what was in front of you.”
“That’s the term that sums up this record and, I think, our state of mind. It’s a good two words. Within the song, it’s got a positive message, and one lyric in particular, ‘Don’t die wondering.’ That’s a good ethos — don’t stand around and wait for something to happen, you need to get out and make it happen for yourself. No one else is going to do it.”
“Lose Your Mind”
“Again, it’s a song about doing things for yourself. If you’re working for other people, it’s not going to feel true. This is the rock-iest song on the album, it’s the only one with a guitar solo in it and live, it’s this huge, different beast. It’s the last song in our set and it goes on for eight or nine minutes, dropping different breaks into it. It’s quite exciting to play live, for sure.”
“These were the first two words we wrote down, and this was the first song that we actually wrote from beginning to end for this record. The words just kind of stuck, and I named my blog Future This.”
“This is the most personal song on the record. It’s a song about death. It features me stepping up to the mic for the first time, reading an excerpt from Ask the Dust by John Fante. I’m reading the opening paragraph of that book with a bunch of huge effects layered in so you can’t really make out what I’m saying. That book just means a lot to me and was given to me by someone I love very much. [Note: Cordell’s brother Tarka died of an apparent suicide in 2008.] It just seemed to be apt for that part. It has to do with 77 different ways to say goodbye, which is how the chorus goes. No, it doesn’t have anything to do with ‘1977’ by the Clash.”