Future Girls’ debut full-length is one I’m going to have a tough time describing. Motivation Problems fits well within the Dirt Cult Records catalog. It’s punky, but there’s more going on. It’s melodic in focus with some rough-around-the-edges touches, both musically and in the recording. Twelve songs race past in just 27 minutes, but it feels diverse even within that familiar base style.
Musically it’s upbeat and peppy throughout, with dual vocals adding energy to the downer lyrical topics. After all, the band titled this effort Motivation Problems, which is a pretty direct clue about their, um, enthusiasm. They call themselves “bummer punk,” and it’s a pretty apt term. Each of the songs here is chord based and builds to a nice melody with a strong emphasis on sing-along structures. One singer typically begins the song and, at the chorus, a second voice piles on top for added emotion. On occasion, the two sing in unison for added effect.
Both singers are a bit dry in their delivery style, picking a tone and sticking with it. They use the extra kick of co-vocalists rather than enunciation to evoke emotion, which fits given the band’s somewhat dire subject matter. To summarize that tone, the album ends on a group refrain of “Do I even exist at all?”
While the vocals can get a bit samey over the course of the full-length, it’s short enough that it doesn’t really harm the overall vibe. Personal favorites are “At It Again” and “Parading,” which have a little more vocal tradeoff to counteract some of the sameness within the vocal delivery over the album as a whole.
It’s always on fast-forward, reflecting in personal questions about depression, isolation, and gender but plowing through it one day at a time. Musically it’s diverse, with production that gives it a live feel with extra energy. Most songs are built in a power pop format, but with an internal-facing point-of-view that personalizes the material. Meanwhile, the recording and the mixing of the drums keep it from swallowing the listener in the songwriter’s self-described isolation. There’s something unspoken in the tone that reminds me of a little The Replacements, even if the band’s sound really doesn’t. It’s personal but universal.