Review: Future Crooks, ‘Future Crooks In Paradise’
Back in early June we published an opinion piece on the current state of pop punk. Mixed feelings ran rampant through the work, and these feelings are still very much relevant. A lot of the bands in the genre are incredible, with an extreme focus on the “If they can do it, so can I” mentality. This statement is obviously wide-swept and not inclusive. Every once in a while, a band comes out of the woodwork and releases something that completely changes my mind about the genre, replacing any initial feelings of doubt with that of pride. Future Crooks is one of those bands.
Instead of taking on the traits of other current bands in the genre, Future Crooks gives us a sound reminiscent of a young Say Anything on their debut album, ‘Future Crooks In Paradise.’ The right amount of snark and cynicism is hidden behind songs that are structured and written well enough to make themselves right at home in your head before you have the chance to contest. That in itself is a feat since there isn’t a song on the album that goes beyond the 2:28 mark. Normally this would be an area of concern for me, but Future Crooks have managed to create songs that feel incredibly fleshed out and fully realized in that short amount of time.
Take album opener, “Humbug” for example. Weighing in at a whopping one minute and thirteen seconds, “Humbug” is the shortest song on the album. In that short amount of time, they’ve managed to not leave you wanting more from the song. The first ten seconds of vocals and muffled guitar give way to the full band explosion that comes to take over. It is not the unnecessarily short, separate intro song we’ve seen in the genre before; it does an incredible job of working as a standalone track.
Our first taste of what will hopefully be signature snark is given to us in “Briton,” with the first line of the song being “He will walk this Earth/full of freaks/full of goths/full of girls/surrounding him/they cover the streets/with their grime and their greed.” This is in my opinion, the best kind of social commentary out there. One with a sharp, sarcastic bite. Especially when it’s presented in such a pristine pop song package.
The Say Anything comparison really comes to life when you listen to “Bright Red Hair.” The lyrics are riddled with singalongs of self deprecation (see: “This is the truth about me/I’ve got dirty bright red hair and crooked teeth/and I’m just bad news for you/I’m just bad news/It’s true/’Cos I’ve seen the dark in me”) and in the same breath has moments of affirmation (see: “Climb on to my back/You don’t have to hurt anymore/You don’t have to hurt/’Cos I’ve seen the glow deep in your body”). The vocal delivery is what really breathes life into this song. It’s incredible to listen to.
Side Note: On an album like ‘Future Crooks In Paradise,’ it’s hard to pick moments that shine brighter than the collective. This is a record that I have no problem listening to from start to finish multiple times a day. Future Crooks have created an instant classic that already feels like it’s worthy of a Ten Year Tour in 2024.
I don’t think I’ve ever had to Google a name for the sake of context before listening to “Harry Takayama.” The fact that the hook of this song is a line used in an episode of Full House should be enough to make it one of your favorite tracks on the album. If that doesn’t sell you, hopefully the fact that it’s one of the best written tracks on the album will. The vivid lyrics were the inspiration behind the album art, and they somehow made falling backwards through space and Harry Takayama’s unfortunate love for Dj Tanner [He was married to Stephanie after all] work together in perfect harmony. I don’t know how they did it, but they did.
“Who Me” is a realist’s feel good song. The use of lines like “Who me? I am still breathing” and “I know I’m fine; I’m not dead” communicate that message very clearly. The honesty in those lines make this song instantly accessible, and the fact that it’s not preachy or over the top makes it easy to listen to. It’s very easy to get tired of feel good songs, but this one is different. Future Crooks knew better than to write some cheesy radio dribble, and I love them for that.
Future Crooks was introduced to me through a teaser video released by Bad Timing Records. I’m sure the majority of you have seen it already, but it’s here just in case. This video featured just a tiny bit of “Leave Me Alone” and that was when I knew that I was going to love this band. I had so many feelings hit me all at once, with nostalgia and excitement in the forefront. “Leave Me Alone” is something different than any other pop punk band was putting out at the time, and I was eager to hear the full song. Hell, those thirty seconds alone made me want to write this review.
From start to finish, this album is a masterpiece. That’s the tl;dr version of this review. I know I’ve done nothing but sing the praise of Future Crooks, but they deserve that and so much more. This band has taken a genre that can very easily become a chore to listen to, and breathed new life into it. I can confidently tell you that ‘Future Crooks In Paradise’ is the best pop punk record of the year and I can’t wait to see these guys grow. I’m excited now, more than ever, for the longevity of pop punk. 5/5