By Andy McFerren
There are two kinds of people in this world: those who like to be high at the gym and those who do not. I have a friend who smokes and then goes to yoga. He says it helps him focus and to be intentional with every movement. Personally, I fall into the latter category. As someone who is so self-conscious about my lifting that I built my own gym in my basement, I feel that I would get paranoid about other people watching me—something I do sober. But I understand the appeal.
Based on future.exboyfriend’s sophomore album, FXB, it appears that lead singer Tyler Harris falls into this first category, dedicating a whole song to the idea.
But what if you took that idea three steps further and you made a concept album solely about all of the different places you’ve been high? Like the album they make in the movie Begin Again but instead of recording all around New York City in an attempt to capture the sights and sounds of that majestic city through music, FXB attempts to capture the extreme spectrum that being high can be, from eclectic dance beats to spacey dreamscape pieces.
From the fast and driven “Self Sabotage” to “Tape Loop” and “Feels Brand New,” they all give the impression of purely instrumental tracks even though there are lyrics—the likes of which I’m not sure what they are as they slip into the ether, lost to time and space, only being registered in my mind as an extra synth line to carry the melody. And as a cherry on top to all of the emotions that come under the influence, add heartbreak. That alone will mess you up more than (most) drugs.
But FXB is more than the half-baked thought I articulated above. The vocals are captivating. You hear Tyler Harris’s voice, and it stops you in your tracks. And while these vocals have obvious comparisons to that of BØRNS and Portugal. The Man, they still remain unique and singular.
While Tyler’s vocals are the thing that sticks out the most on the album, I don’t want to take anything away from the rest of the band. Isaac Ramirez’s bass lines groove so much that they should come with a warning. I need to see “CAUTION: This song contains bass lines so groovy that they may cause whiplash. Listener discretion is advised.” before the songs “Molly,” “Dead Man,” and “Should’ve Loved You More.”
Even though I know nothing about drums, I have to recognize Josh Arena’s percussive wizardry. These songs are a shell of themselves without him. And finally, the synths perfectly compliment each track like a great sommelier pairing wine with your meal.
This album appropriately came out on 4/20, and if you missed your chance to listen to it under the influence on everybody’s favorite fake holiday, have no fear. Be like Alan Jackson. It’s 4/20 somewhere.
Be sure to follow future.exboyfriend on Instagram and listen to “High at the Gym” below!