In these trying times, it’s understandable that cultural consumers demand familiarity above anything else. When tomorrow looks increasingly worrying, the past seems like the safest place to hide.
Mass culture no longer holds much interest in innovating its future, the disasterscape of late capitalism has drilled it into our heads that past forms are what really excites us – that retro signifies the new. Post Animal‘s ‘Forward Motion Godyssey’ fits comfortably into this mould.
Besides a few specks of embers, across the board the album feels tame and cauterised. Obligatory experimental track ‘The Whole’ consists of generic, Vangelis-esque synths, but comes across as an outtake that should’ve never made the final track list. The heavier ‘In A Paradise’ uses drop-D riffing to perform an ironic imitation of what a heavy song actually sounds like, whilst ‘Fitness’ teases exotic atmosphere, but fizzles out as it becomes apparent the band doesn’t know how to build towards a climax.
Post Animal seem insistent on throwing everything into the air and seeing what lands, but that can only work if what’s being thrown is interesting enough in the first place. Generic and tacky 80s synths crop up more than once on ‘Private Shield’, one of the dullest and least memorable tracks on the album. They feel so plastic, so drab and wholly uninspired that it becomes simply a mental sheet of pastel-hued static.
Maybe this is the appeal. Maybe Post Animal are tapping into a demand for reminders of better times, of a better world, one that can only be found upon digging into our collective cultural memories. Everything here feels like a trip through an idealised past; 80s-textured guitars interchange with 70s synths underneath 60s folk vocals. It’s not that the music is poor for relying on its influences, it’s that the influences never coalesce into anything with personality or character. It floats us down a river of nostalgia, but provides no scenery to observe.
None of this is Post Animal‘s fault. They arrived in a world nearing the end of history, and there are moments on ‘Forward Motion Godyssey’ that force you to imagine a scenario where the conditions were ripe for them to become something unique. ‘Safe Or Not’ is a fun enough track, but is beholden to layers of cold, overproduced guitars. And there are moments where you can almost imagine them as Super Furry Animals-esque, however, their charm is never allowed to shine through due to the gimmicky and lazy production choices.
Post Animal will probably be successful. You’ll hear them in Urban Outfitters, watch them on the BBC Radio 1/NME stage at Reading Festival, see the vinyl on the wall of your student cousin’s house. They’re the inevitable product of a cultural landscape that prioritises a lazy aestheticisation of the past instead of the tough job of carving out the future. They’re a making wholly of our own doing. A future we created to escape into our imagined histories.