From the onset of “Room 302” to the soulless, absurdly banal “Wanna Party”, the self-titled debut project of Future Brown does its best to use variety as a crutch. However, variety cannot disguise an album that lacks gumption, personality, and gratification. The Los Angeles production team seems so hell-bent on fusing their passé brand of club music with different styles such as hip-hop, grime, cumbia, and R&B that they overlook many of the facets of truly lasting dance tracks – hooks that demand repeated flirtation, invigorating beats, and an aura of subversion. Future Brown has none of these traits. Instead, it relies on amateur-level production techniques, flavorless vocal contributions, and instantly forgettable melodies.
Future Brown’s half-baked genre medleys that arrive toward the middle of the album with tracks like “No Apology” and “Speng” irritate more than impress, and these diverse stylistic incorporations increasingly feel like missed opportunities as the album advances. The beats are as straightforward as can be. “MVP” combines glitzy synthesizers with thin, echoing percussion, and “Big Homie” implements flaccid steel drums with a vapid backdrop. Since Future Brown cannot deliver songs that are visceral, cerebral, or anything in-between, their songs quickly fade into the background despite their desperate efforts to breathe life into what amounts to a series of sonic carcasses.
There are a few moments that click, like “Dangerzone”, which benefits from its spacy ambience and refreshingly reserved vocal performances from Kelela and Ian Isaih, who naturally coast into the spotlight with finesse. The track serves as an ideal and more nuanced centerpiece for an album of bloated simplicity. The Latino-pop inspired “Vernáculo” is also saved by the decent singing from vocal guest Maluca, whose lower register effectively brings the song into groovier territory. Other vocal features, however, consistently annoy with oversaturated auto-tune on songs like “Killing Time” and “Talkin Banz”. These tracks are so cringe-worthy that it’s unfortunate they’re not simply self-aware gags.
Future Brown’s self-titled debut casts itself into shimmering lights without anything worthwhile to display. There are indeed snippets where their ability becomes evident, but this team seems uninterested in pushing themselves. As a result, there’s virtually nothing to latch onto for most of the album, which is more of a slight to the album’s outright lack of amusement than its lack of ambition. What is presented is a series electronic dance tracks stripped of their audacity. By the end, it’s reasonable to question the point of it all.