Future Loves Past's debut album gives "polish" a good name. "Disco," too. That's not the only musical jargon the Tempe natives rehabilitate on All the Luscious Plants, but they're the first ones you'll have to confront when you listen to it. This is a polished, dance-y, slick — that's another one — album.
It all progresses logically from 2011's self-titled EP, but the band, an increasingly popular live draw, is progressing in one confident direction. Everything on the slinky, soulful end of FLP's sound has been turned up. Sometimes literally: Where the vocals once served as a quiet counterbalance to the steady, forceful rhythm, they're now its swaggering equal. An audible precision escapes through the spacey atmospherics on songs like the stuttering "Lupa."
The production, from Bob Hoag at Flying Blanket Recording, is certainly a part of that — the 2013 version of "Mean Love" sounds a lot like the 2011 version, only more so. But where many bands use their first full-length album as an opportunity to expand, Future Loves Past has used the additional time, experience, and (presumably) money they had to record All the Luscious Plants to narrow their sound.
If all this sounds overly cold or clinical — if you're not ready to reclaim polish, let alone slickness, from the spate of post-Maroon-5 bands who took those mantles — it's because the flourishes that warm this album arrive unexpectedly. None of the change-ups they throw call attention to themselves; what separates this from albums that are just slick or just polished is the way that the band doesn't break its stride during breathy three-part harmonies and unexpected detours into reggae.
For all that, it could maybe use more and different detours; the variety of sounds on display in their Our Solar System single is absent here. But All the Luscious Plants, as a first album, is a statement of purpose, and a successful one. It distills the most important things about Future Loves Past into 10 songs and leaves the rest for the second album that now seems inevitable.
Which is good. Because if All the Luscious Plants weren't a success, things might become a little uncomfortable at Lushfest, the full-blown event that's grown out of the band's record-release party. On two stages over two days at The Sail Inn, 19 other local bands will join Future Loves Past, who will play the new album in its entirety.
After Future Loves Past finishes performing All the Luscious Plants on Friday night, the show will continue until 2 in the morning, with Snake! Snake! Snakes! and Instructions continuing inside. Saturday's bill features bands like Wooden Indian, Sundressed, St Ranger, and Vial of Sound, all of whom have attracted attention outside Arizona for their own success stories.
In a weird way, Lushfest is both a celebration of Future Loves Past's new album and a reminder of just how much talent is out there right now and how many great albums don't find the larger audiences they deserve. All the Luscious Plants and Future Loves Past certainly deserve to find a larger audience; over the weekend, the audience they have now will come out in force to celebrate that fact.