The album does not start with the bang that I had expected from the last two albums. Eunoia is a cheery-sounding build-up which immediately has me curious. Have I picked up the right album here? Is this really ASIWYFA? As if to dispel the myth, Big Thinks Do Remarkable explodes onto the scene, and I’m on an auditory sugar-rush. Clearly this is still the sound of the Belfast lads, just overdosed on happiness.
There’s lots of new stuff to talk about in this release, most notably the presence of some proper vocals. Coming from such an instrumentally-focused band, this may come as a surprise to many. Numerous tracks include chanting, repeated vocals – the aforementioned Big Thinks Do Remarkable, The Stay Golden and Young Brave Minds. I can’t say these sections are very imaginative or interesting, but they are certainly sing-along. This, along with the sheer energy in a large proportion of the songs on this album, bodes well for live performances to come. I should take the time to mention the furiously-fast drumming on Like a Mouse (which is anything but) and Rats on a Rock (listen below), which I expect will blow the audience away when drummer Chris Wee plays live.
The band have also expanded their musical palette in terms of instruments used. This is most apparent on the three centrepiece tracks. The Stay Golden features some seriously catchy electronic loops, adds cowbell and tambourine to the repertoire of percussion. Rats on a Rock whisks us off to a Caribbean beach with steel drums, and Trails rounds it all off with a gentle strings and horns. This eclectic mix of sounds gives some real character and make for standout tracks. And there’s still more to discover, with dreamy flutes on Mend and Make Safe, plus xylophone on the title track.
The addition of all these new elements has an impact of the guitar work. While it still holds the same bombast of previous releases, the lyrics and additional instruments naturally distract attention where they feature, making for less of that in-and-out math-rock intricacy. Never fear though – there’s still some there for fans of that aspect of their work, in songs such as Ambulance and Things Amazing, it’s just less prevalent.
Good as their work has been so far, I’m glad this isn’t a repeat of their previous albums. The formula ASIWYFA have mastered has made for some astounding compositions, and in this release they keep things fresh and interesting. If Gangs is a bottle of Coca-Cola, straight out of the fridge, then All Hail Bright Futures is a bottle of pink lemonade, shaken up to bursting point. While some fans may not get along with the new sound, I think it’s a fantastically feel-good release that lives up to its name.