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Album Review: Torres ‘Three Futures’

Torres’ Three Futures, her third studio album, feels like the full-realization of an artist trying to chip away at her own sound and discover herself. The pieces were there all along, and in retrospect, her previous two LPs seem to hint at an album like Three Futures but were held back. Now, Torres is set free whatever she was trying to break loose from. The result seems to have a pulse all its own—the record is deeply vivid, richly textured, confident and unabashed.

Ask any author, or literary critic, and they’ll tell you that the most crucial component to creating a compelling fictional work is world-building—the lives of the characters and their world need to be fully fleshed-out and actualized to be compelling. This is how the songs on “Three Futures” feel: each one is a soundscape in its own right. Take the title track for example—there’s a line, “We lined the Hudson with our tangents.” She takes that one detail, plants an image in your head, and sonically, creates a song that ebbs and flows just like a river moves. The song is languid and wistful, like the recollection of a late summer afternoon, but somehow, she makes a song about romantic disillusion feels wholly complete. 

Synth is the major player on Three Futures but its role transforms, gracefully, throughout the album into something almost unrecognizable from one song to the next. Whispers of Kate Bush and St. Vincent seep through, but the result isn’t derivative; Torres’s sense of self holds tenaciously throughout.

In a press release the artist said that Three Futures centers around “using the body that each of us has been given as a mechanism of joy.”  References to the body, and how its connotations and implications differ from men to women, abound; “did he hold your hips with authority?” Torres wonders about a lover on “Skim.” On “Righteous Woman” she sings, “When I go to spread / it’s just to take up all the space I can,” challenging the idea of man-spreading. But beyond the latent physicality and sensuality, the album’s effective thesis for the album really refers to hedonism, and the shameless pursuit of living for yourself.

Raised as a conservative Catholic in the South, Torres knows about guilt, and for some, learning to use the body for joy is a somewhat revolutionary concept. However, her past is still present on the album, and she not only makes peace with it, but speaks of it lovingly. “I know you never dreamed I’d become a damn Yankee/if you could only see, it’s still the Georgia winds that blow through me,” she sings on “Tongue Slaps Your Brain Out.”

“Bad Baby Pie,” the album’s most earnest and poignant track, sounds like an ode to her parents: “I’ll make it worth every sleepless night/I’ll make it worth every last bite/Of that bad baby pie.” Her old Georgia-girl self vs. the new Torres that emerges on the album are probably two of the “Three Futures” the title refers to, but by embracing them both, and every other form of self, feels like enlightenment and the album shines because of it.

Three Futures‘ is out now.

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