The greatest accolade that can be awarded to The Amazons at this point is that they’ve survived this long. Even among the silent majority indie acts (of which there’s a frankly startling amount), there’s really no one who’s had anything to say about them one way or the other, and while they’ve certainly made waves, it’s tough to see what that’s actually done for them besides nudged them higher up the occasional festival lineup. At least they can rest assured that they’ve not curried their success in as scummy a fashion as The Hunna, but when The Amazons’ music has always felt like another dime-a-dozen indie / garage-rock act with few differentiating factors, it’s hardly much of a consolation. Really, they’ve always felt like a placeholder band, an act who it’s safe to fall back on when a gap needs plugging, and with the distinct lack of anticipation surrounding this sophomore album, it feels as though that’s the attitude that most have had towards them up to this point.
Though, to an extent, it does feel as though The Amazons themselves have acknowledged this. They’ve been quick to drop the superlatives in the lead up to this one, describing it as “dirtier” and “sexier” in what is presumably an attempt to curry whatever favour is left from an indie crowd who still see those descriptions as adequate selling points on their own. And to their absolute credit, Future Dust is both of those things, with clear parallels being drawn to Royal Blood in The Amazons’ co-opting of scuzz and volume to mask the shortcomings of a rather stripped-back rock dynamic. But the Royal Blood influence can also be felt in how little that approach really amounts to, as Future Dust regularly fails to clamber out of its own rut and proceeds to trundle along in the doldrums of indie-rock blandness. All that is to say that this is a perfectly adequate, listenable album, but in terms of being memorable or innovative, it’s so far from that, that it might as well be on another planet entirely.
It’s not even like The Amazons have the good graces to provide anything worth talking about either. For as much as the intentions to up the danger level can be appreciated on a surface level, nothing about it ever goes past that, and thus Future Dust is left burdened by the blocky, fuzzed-out production that so many other indie chancers have made use of, and are similarly clueless of how to use effectively. At best, there’s something like Mother which can actually wring some decent weight out of its groove and lockstep progression, or Dark Visions which rolls along with a bit more propulsion, but otherwise, Future Dust wears its rigidity prominently on its sleeve. There’s nothing new or interesting about this, as The Amazons continually recycle inert lumps of guitars and swampy production that has felt exactly this boring time and time again; virtually no one has been able to make this approach sound good, and why this band believe that they can be the ones to buck this trend with equally no-frills indie-rock is a total mystery. After all, it’s not like draining near enough every single hook of any vitality and cramming them into the same mould to the point of unrecognisability across the board is a smart way of moving forward, nor is relying on writing that’s supposed to have points of deeper resonance or personality behind it, but ends up as effectively nothing whatsoever. Sure, the emphasis placed on the roiling, rattling garage-rock size is good for the building blocks of a sound, and when it’s used effectively, it places The Amazons on a potentially higher pedestal than some of their peers that can’t even muster that, but using it to deflect from everything else being so by-the-numbers feels inconceivably lazy, and it’s something that The Amazons simply can’t afford to do when they’re nowhere close to the level of prominence they want to be. Top it off with a vocal performance from Matt Thomson that only hammers home this sense of homogeneity even further, and what’s left is perhaps the most forgettable, faceless rock album of 2019 thus far, doing enough to function and keep its head above water but never even considering rising past that.
And with an effort like this, it’s worth wondering what The Amazons hope to achieve from this. Guaranteed playlist payola can only get you so far, and with a sound like this whose prime achievement is that it’s perfectly functional, they’re not going to be able to move on to anything better anytime soon. It’s hard to even tell whether they have the potential to; this is an album that gives nothing away about any prospective talents or potential, rather favouring to keep its cards firmly to its chest to avoid even the danger of anything going wrong. And really, that just sums up everything wrong with The Amazons on Future Dust – they’re a band who want to channel the danger and hedonistic spirit of rock ‘n’ roll, but are too afraid to do anything with it that could possibly jeopardise their prospects going forward. It’s about as calculated as you’d expect from an indie band coming up in the current musical climate, and the fact that none of that is even remotely surprising just feels even worse.
For fans of: Royal Blood, You Me At Six, The Hunna
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Future Dust’ by The Amazons is out now on Friction Records.