I was excited about this record 3 seconds in. To put it directly, I’m a big fan of everything Future Virgins has done so I was expecting it. Doomsday Raga fits their catalog well, but it also fits in with the gradual progression from coarse DIY to well-rounded, crisp melodies.
There’s a lot to like about the band, but for me it’s really the melodic focus. The band has a familiar foundation in garage-punk, but the melodies take something of a Motown/R&B fluidness that flows seamlessly over the more aggressive music. It’s not always aggressive by a longshot on this 14-song record, but I’ll say that in a general sense. The band even has a full-on acoustic ballad here (“Old Man Charlemagne”), and even over the slow pace and minimalism of that song, the vocals cut through with pure heart.
There’s a good balance across the record: Lovelorn loss, as in “Old Man Charlemagne,” but also more positive vibes and a lot of sharp-edged commentary about personal relationships and the larger concepts of life in America. The themes are definitely on the cynical side of the fence, but focuses on day-to-day experiences instead of recapping the news – all the while offering some sweet melodic juxtaposition.
“Gilded Youth” is a case in point of what the band does so well. It hits at full-speed immediately with vocals right within the opening stanza, then building to the emphatic chorus. The breakdowns define the verse/chorus transitions, keeping the choruses sharp but also seamless. “Piss Ant Saga,” a couple of tracks later, follows a similar format. At about 15 seconds in, the bass shifts gears and redirects the route of the song as it pops between verse and chorus. As a whole, the bass shines through more on this record and it gives the band a full sound. They flesh out their technique even further in “Orthodox Breath,” which has a little more vocal range on display and a touch of crescendo without changing the overall energy.
“Biblical Weather” exemplifies things well, mastering a blend between forceful aggression and soothing melody. Life is often contradictory, confusing, and complex. The tone throughout Doomsday Raga is exactly that: Life sucks; today was rough; there’s beauty out there somewhere. In the words of “Bill’s Jam,” “[Now] go home and get some sleep.” The lyrics may be jaded, but it’s music that always makes me smile.
9.0 / 10
After how hard Western Problems hit, it would be hard for Future Virgins to deliver another punch-out of similar quality. Or would it? With a new record, Late Republic on Recess Records, the Chattanooga ...
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