Album Review of FUTURE CLOUDS AND RADAR’s Peoria released on Star Apple Kingdom
It has been eight years since guitarist/vocalist Robert Harrison suffered a debilitating spinal injury and the disbanding of his band Cotton Mather, the local pop-rock darling he then fronted. Channeling his energy into recording songs as a form of therapy, Harrison released a two-disc, self-titled debut album in 2007 under his new project, Future Clouds and Radar, earning rave reviews across the map.
FC&R’s latest release, Peoria, is an artistic project that shows promise for even more nationwide recognition. The sophomore recording, featuring eight songs running just about 30 minutes, is filled with a kaleidoscope of melodies, rhythms, and harmonious techniques that twist and turn, taking the listener on a psychedelic ride that puts Willie Wonka to shame. And rightfully so, since the album’s intent is to tell a narrative of mortality.
Peoria is a consistent ensemble of songs that poetically flow into one another, from the opening track “The Epcot View,” with its fuzz-box trickery, to “Old Edmund Ruffin,” which harbors a haunting vocal coupled with a melancholy guitar riff that leads into the two-minute, piano-driven “Feet On Grass.” One of the best tracks is the dark, romantic epic “Mummified,” which oozes loneliness right out of the gate: She talks / And I am wrapped / In my white suit / Like a full body cast. A trumpet line emulating a dreamy, yet depressing, circus theme sets the mood for an ending of fanatical tapping of piano keys reminiscent of a lover gone mad.
Guitar- and horn-driven “18 Months” is a jazzy, toe-tapper that embeds the chorus “18 months and buried alive” in the brain long after the song ends. “The Mortal” and “Mortal 926” pair well with their macabre chant of electro-guitar, brass, keys, and heavy percussion making the perfect segue for the closing track, “Follow the Crane.” One would expect a grand finale of sorts by this time, and “Follow the Crane” doesn’t disappoint. With a clever combination of sirens and applause preceded by a request to “gather around the victory coffin,” it’s hard not to have a Moulin Rouge-type setting swirling the imagination.
The sound of FC&R has been compared to The Beatles in the past, and Peoria is no different. However, what does make FC&R stand out is their brevity to explore new musical territory that has no boundaries—creating a stylistic footprint all its own. It is fair to say this album may not appeal to everyone, but if played enough it will catch on.