PLAYING DETROIT: James Linck “No Future”

james-linck-no-future-ep-cover

It would be easy to assume that an EP titled No Future would be a completely defeatist collection of woes, worries, and shortcomings but in the case of producer, soul-pop performer James Linck, “No Future” does not mean surrender but acts as an invitation for us to explore where we’ve been, where we’re going and why we may never get there…and why that’s  totally okay.

There’s something tongue and cheek about Linck’s embodiment of growing up, making art and not having any answers to the big questions. But the playful manner in which these themes are explored do not lack sincerity or warmth. The danceable rhythms to which these themes are paired only hammers in the juxtaposing struggle even deeper. Effectively curious and confused, No Future is a party for an occasion that most people wouldn’t celebrate like getting a divorce or not landing that job you wanted. Humility is needed here and is dished out through cleverly arranged hip-hop swagger, synths that clap and vocals that go from whispers to heavily (and almost comical) autotuned. And it’s hard to not smile when you hear the opening to “Black to Black” where Linck takes us back 15+ years by using dial-up interent sounds.

The closing track “When Cars Fly/One More Snooze” is an autotune saturated list of apocalyptic, futuristic scenarios and imagery in which Linck’s love is declared, including the gnawing line: “I’ll still love you when the tide drowns the shore.” Midway through the track pauses to introduce some radio commercial interruption as if signals have been crossed leading into “One More Snooze,” a soaring embrace of finality and uncertainty that pulsates with a video game-esque panic driven synth breakdown ending with a calm Linck speaking the word “Okay.” A swan song of sorts, yes, but “When Cars Fly/One More Snooze” does not dance with the downtrodden or hopelessness but instead waltzes with acceptance and the existential misfiring of an entire generation, something that No Future encompasses with an un-ironic unseen shrug emoji.

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