Future Historians! Existential pop from Portland, Oregon since 2008. First it sounded like indie folk, then it sounded like Wilco, now it sounds like a band of nerds doing whatever they want. We have our heart on our sleeve, hooks up our sleeve, and we roll up our sleeves (revealing the hooks). Our records have concepts and our live show is old-fashioned fun... from the Future. Listen!
Dave, Mike, Rob and Charley
Review: Portrait of Self
Leks Maltby, Aside/Beside
On their recently released third long-player, Portland's Future Historians deliver their unique blend of lo-fi indie-rock in an immaculately conceived album-length narrative, aptly titled Portrait of Self. Album opener "Sea" effectively casts the listener ashore, setting sail on an existential voyage that spills into "Insomnia," a reflective song about the meaning of life as contemplated from deep within the twilight hours. Lyrics such as "Today will end and tomorrow will begin again," capture the band's fascination with writing about the minutiae of the mundane, the simple day-to-day activities that comprise the entirety of most people's lives.
While this all may sound painfully run-of-the-mill, these Future Historians deliver such daily truths with the accompaniment of grand orchestral arrangements executed on what sound like some of the cheapest instruments found at your local pawn shop. And therein lies the genius of the band: they effectively take the banality of daily life and elevate it to the grandeur of Medieval lore. Take for instance the pairing of "Bus" and "Call," collectively serving as the album's centerpiece. While neither song attempts to reinvent the wheel (no pun intended), they do succeed in transforming the daily commute into an epic adventure that has only just begun. The immediate lyrical influence that comes to mind is John K. Samson of the Canadian indie-rock outfit The Weakerthans, whose 2007 song "Civil Twilight" details the daily thought processes of a Winnipeg bus driver during the course of his daily route.
Ultimately, Future Historians have staked out their own distinct slice of literate, thought-provoking indie-rock in an era when radio-friendly hooks and mindless sing-along choruses reign supreme. It's not the kind of music that's bound for heavy Top 40 rotation, but it's also not pretending to be. On Portrait of Self, Future Historians have built upon their existing repertoire, bolstering their credibility and creativity with each successive release. This album only begins to hint at the future greatness that the band is no doubt capable of, with visions of double-record concept albums thematically structured around long walks in the park looming in the not-too-distant future. Indeed, the future is already here, so let these historians take you back in time as we each take one big collective step forward.