We’ve all heard those bands which are close to, but not entirely fitting with our tastes, right? We’ll headbang along and go with the flow because everyone else is having the time of their lives, so you should also, right? For myself, there have been a myriad of jazzy prog bands fitting this bill, which get me grooving for the most part, but ultimately after a year, fall off the map. For the last three weeks, I’ve been soaking in the rays of Bend The Future and know that this will not be the case this time. The French quintet has only been going since 2019, but their new release Sounds So Wrong is incredibly deep, complex, and mature in both its writing and instrumentation.
Bend The Future blends a whole host of musical flavours into their sound, with roots in 70’s prog-rock, funk, and jazz, topped off with the unmistakable grit that French bands seem to be so adept at layering into their music. The album flits effortlessly from dark and cerebral movements into warming and eclectic motions, filling one with awe for the skilful writing and movements the band can pull off. It is complex, but oh so fun to dive into headfirst.
Vocals are few and far between on Sounds So Wrong, a strength I think works strongly in the band’s favour. Not that the vocals, when used, aren’t excellent, just they have so much to say with their instruments, and do such a good job at showcasing them in the mix, that songs would get too crowded or bloated to land as well as they do. The opening track, “Desert Eagle”, has them at the top and tail, preferring to showcase the band’s full range of talent instead. The track plays sax and keys off against each other whilst a charged rock song ebbs and flows in the background, pumping the listener full of energy for this first track.
Even three weeks in, I still get confused by the second track, which actually opens like Tipper does in Forward Escape, with bubbly, psychedelic electronica that leads into a section that I’d associate with Jaga Jazzist‘s style. This massive variance from the first track really sets you up for the journey of the rest of the album, which sees some tracks altogether switch style midway. The best bit? It sounds so organic, so metered, that you cannot flaw a single transition or mourn the loss of a riff because what comes next is usually so much grander.
Favourite track? I think it has to go to the slow-building “Somewhere Beneath”. This moody, atmospheric song is great. It opens with a fresh yet familiar guitar lick that stays with you all day, offset by some foreboding piano work. The band are very good at giving teasers of what is to come, so as soon as the sax layer kicks in, they dial it back down again, making the final and fully fleshed introduction of the sax even more cathartic and relaxing. Yet the atmosphere alludes to something altogether different coming, and the sharp shift towards the end of the song sets this track off on a 70’s psychedelic rock climax that keeps on doling out cool moments till the very end.
The album ends as strongly as it starts, with three stellar tracks that again show off the band’s insane creativity. Final track “Now Is The Moment” is a complete headspin, moving first from a funky, vocal-driven section that gets you moving, through a multitude of different styles, with some jazz that sounds heavily influenced by traditional French music, before ending up with a delicate finale of prog-rock. It is the perfect wrap-up to an exceptional album.
The balance of styles and moods, the high-quality instrumentation, the excellent mixing, and accentuation of instruments at the right moment all come together perfectly in this brilliant album by Bend The Future. I certainly look forward to playing this for years to come and seeing how they develop their sound further. I’d love more of the funky lyrics deployed in the final track, as the band certainly know how to groove, but otherwise, I’m dead impressed.