Sam Cohen is a musician who dabbles in multiple sonic worlds, producing records and playing with the likes of everyone from Bob Weir to Cee-Lo Green. Cohen’s newest release, The Future Is Still Ringing In My Ears is a grand testament to his skills as well as a conscious evolution as he pairs with Danger Mouse to meld his indie rock leanings with electro-pop production and heavy groove induced beats.
Opening strongly with “I Can’t Lose” the tone is set as rich overloaded sounds pump through the headphones pushing the warbling introduction, deep drum beats and vibrant pulses into rattling ear holes, much in the same vein of Danger Mouse’s work with The Black Keys. The almighty groove is established before Cohen comes in singing about being broken all along, by both masters and his own ego, with falsetto grace.
Lyrically the album is occupied with a crumbling society/earth complete with “a burning sky” and other environmental disasters, but by pairing those affecting lyrics with lounge ready sounds Cohen has crafted a winning formula. A perfect example of this is “Man On Fire” which verbalizes end of days fire and brimstone with a galloping head-bopping bass line and gorgeously fuzzed up guitar lines. This juxtaposition can be thought provokingly jarring but also engaging as the track “Something’s Got A Hold On Me” takes a smooth vibe and dirties it up as Cohen sings about the future being a terrific disappointment, for one reason because America is too fat to riot; that “Something” which has a hold on him and all of us is this current cultural malaise and Cohen taps directly into it.
The piano ballad “No Good Trying” is a brief break from the dance-ready head twisting rock sound, as is the one note “Waiting For My Baby To Come” with its direct message, pretty duet chorus and charm, acting as a breather on the album…even though the narrator is still worried and hasn’t made any dent on society.
The melding of Cohen’s Beatles love and his Danger Mouse partnerships make for a perfect match as the album moves along tying freighting ideas with gorgeous sounds. The track “Invisible Song” moves as if John Lennon was working in the studio today while “Let The Sun Come Through” goes that same route with epic scope and appeal. “Dead Rider” bumps with bass incorporating soaring horns and otherworldly ooh and ahh backing vocals while “Spinning Love” finds Cohen flexing poetic muscle/guitar solos before closer “The Future” ends things on a dark humorous note.
While some fans of his more roots-based Yellowbirds leanings may not enjoy this ride, Cohen and crew have crafted a modern sounding album which fuses his guitar playing, sonic sculptures and lyrical songcraft for these currently unstable times; The Future Is Still Ringing In My Ears my see despair all around, but it sure sounds swell.