It might feel that the Infadels have been around for a long time, but The Future Of The Gravity Boy is only their third long playing release as a band in six years. The title strongly implies the existence of a concept behind the scenes – but it’s good to report that the concept is not the undoing of the album.
The theme is the survival of human skills in the technological age, so the album is effectively a struggle of man versus machine. As if to represent the machines, Alex Metric is brought in on production duties, adding a tough electronic edge to the band’s already upfront sound. This suits Bnann’s vocals to a tee, though it does mean drummer Alex Bruford, son of Bill, has less room in which to express himself.
When the production is as energy packed as it is on the title track, the band has no worries. A loping bass drum introduces the verse, but then the chorus breaks and the tempo doubles in something of a masterstroke, the beats flying and the adrenalin pumping. It’s the best moment of the album by some distance.
The songs themselves are a clear departure from previous album Universe In Reverse, but with Bnann at the helm are never likely to be short of emotion. We Get Along might be a bit shouty in its execution but the sentiment is clear at the end of a relationship. “You know we’ve got our reasons why we’re always friends – we get along” is the conclusion.
The band sound confident and ballsy, but sometimes the emotion is empty when Metric’s production comes to the fore, a sign perhaps of technology making a fight back in the album’s plotline. Ghosts trips along nicely until Metric introduces an unnecessary, trance-based riff at the end, destroying what went before. Mercury Rising is the low point, however, a telegraphed slow number that doesn’t offer a great deal other than some entreaties to “come on”, having noted “I know you really wanna see the sun again, to feel it on your face”. Thankfully this is an isolated blip.
Full marks should go to Infadels for their enterprising approach here though, and as always they never offer less than total commitment and emotional input. When the technology makes itself known there is some loss of subtlety and conviction, but the songwriting know how remains. The Future Of The Gravity Boy deserves to bring the band to a bigger audience – there are far worse bands that are more popular than them – but despite some serious blows to the body early on it might not quite have the knockout punch to clinch the victory.