THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 2014|
Posted by: Anthony Toto
For the music listener searching for an album that quiets the outside world when focusing their attention elsewhere, EMA's The Future's Void serves as a complimentary soundtrack equipped to attract the multi-taskers of today's digital age. Mixing the core elements of electronic, alternative, industrial, and art-pop allows EMA to translate her emotions into a barrage of unorthodox instrumental interludes. Whether she infuses a Nine Inch Nails industrial influence by riling up her anger on "Cthulu" or sooths the listener with her acoustic guitar on "When She Comes," the moods of her latest album never settle for a sense of comfort.
Questioning her position in a world consumed with peer-to-peer technology, her lyrics on The Future's Void raise relevant questions about the social media practices that shape our modern interactions with one another. Where is society headed in terms of social relationships? On the track "3Jane," EMA confronts the mindset of sharing all of our personal business for the public eye to view. She sings, "When you wandered out on/superhighway/there should be a law about it/when they can take videos of you/feel like I blew my soul out/across the interwebs and streams/it was a million pieces/of silver and I watched them gleam/it left a hole so big inside of me/and I get terrified that I will never get it back to me/I guess it's just a modern disease."
When reading the lyrics off The Future's Void, EMA's poetic songwriting connects with the listener through her use of poignant issues. On her personal blog, she demonstrates the humility of a musician looking to connect with her fans without falling victim to the stereotypes of the music industry. When discussing the inspiration behind the track "3Jane," she said, "Another thing that really fucked me up is that somewhere along the way I feel like I lost control of my image. I don't know how to pose for a photographer and sometimes when I'm in front of somebody else's camera I don't know what to do. So I would do the thing that I had seen before a million times in fashion mags and advertisements because I wanted to do a 'good job.' And little by little, these pictures became more sexy and pouty until I didn't recognize myself anymore." When is the last time a pop-figure stood against anything meaningful that shaped our lives for better or worse?
Throughout The Future's Within, EMA talks about the stereotypes befallen on women in all forms of media by using her music to express her discomfort with the forceful demands that make her step outside her own skin. It's commendable to hear a songwriter with such elegance stand against the image-centered focus of mainstream music. EMA confronts the fickle self-conscious tendencies befallen on American culture through a combination of media and our frequent over sharing online.
The complexity of EMA's words makes me want to pull for her success as her intelligence reveals a highly articulate and progressive thinker, however, the music comes close to crossing over but still needs time to form an identity. Within the bass drops, synthesized melodies, and grungy guitar chords heard on "Satellites" and "Cthulu" lays the sound EMA needs to strive for on her next record. Those two tracks achieve an enormous eruption that enhances the musical moods into exciting moments of dynamic instrumentation and confessional expression. The majority of tracks on The Future's Void are well-written pieces of artistic elegance but reach a climax only halfway through the album. On later tracks like "Neuromancer," "100 Years" and "Dead Celebrity", the music suffers from lack of focus as the slower tempos are plagued with a tedious feeling of stagnation. The falloff after "Smoulder" demonstrates the danger in mixing too many sounds on one record. When an artist hasn't mastered one sound that defines its identity, it usually doesn't work when it tries to combine an array of sounds. The Future's Within tries too hard to sound different on every track. While EMA's exploration is commendable, the latter half of the album borders the line of noise. On the first half, tracks like "Satellites" have this grand orchestral power where the sudden bass drops hit the bones and fuse with the chilling soundwave of her voice. "Solace" takes nearly 3 minutes for a bombastic moment to occur as its synthesized repetition reflects a thinner electronic backdrop when compared to "Satellites." While the lyrical content behind "Dead Celebrity" is an interesting read, the final track concludes the album on an unfulfilling note that doesn't leave the listener ecstatic for her next project. The tone of the organ almost sounds like the melody for "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" with a snare drum and firework samples making it feel like the Fourth of July.
Overall, EMA composed six solid tracks with a combination of ambient beauty and multi-instrumental sections layered with poetic complexity. The album continually grows as each song tops the former until it climaxes but ends abruptly at the halfway point. The lesson here is sometimes sticking to the script helps a piece of music achieve a better sense of rhythm and flow in songwriting. The future is very bright for EMA as she will only grow with the experience of her solo career and her intelligence will always keep her musical ambitions afloat. If she continues to balance her artistic creativity and sense of risk with improved song structures, the sky is the limit.