For a band fronted by a singer called Liz Enthusiasm, Freezepop’s music is puzzlingly lacking in — well, you can guess the rest. The members of Freezepop play pop music. We know they play pop music because they tell us so in their song lyrics. Listening to Future Future Future Perfect, however, I often need to remind myself of this fact. Consider Miss Enthusiasm’s vocal approach: She sings (or speaks) every line in a girlish, staid monotone. When she sings “just give us more rock” on the opening track, she could just as easily be singing asking for more potato salad. Whether she’s going on about ninjas or love or boys, she always sings the same way: with cool detachment, bordering on outright lack of interest.
To be fair, there are singers who work within the synth-pop/electro-pop genre who come across brilliantly without laying on the histrionics (see Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys). But to make that work, you’d better deliver subtle, imaginatively crafted lyrics (again, see Pet Shop Boys). Freezepop isn’t big on lyrical subtly. Tracks like “Less Talk More Rokk” leave little room for interpretation, and the ballad “Thought Balloon” could win an award for Extended Metaphor, Most Hammered into the Ground. Without the subtlety, we’re left with big dumb pop that’s neither big enough nor dumb enough.
Unless. Unless this is supposed to be ironic pop. Meta pop. Pop about pop. Some of the album’s attempts at comedy suggest all this might be an inside joke. “Afterparty” drags on for more than four minutes, with a lyrical punch line that amounts to “Party guests shouldn’t steal pricey hair care products.” And the hilarity of “Do You Like My Wang?” can only ensue if the listener is aware of Wang Laboratories, an early computer company. The group does better when they extract tongue from cheek, as on the (nearly) moving ballads “Frontload” and “Swimming Pool.” They also score one big dumb pop success with the Josie Cottonesque “Do You Like Boys?”
Future Future Future Perfect is a frustrating album, because the group clearly has the right ingredients to produce satisfying pop. They know their way around a midi sequencer, they don’t take themselves too seriously, but they seem to be too clever for their own good. Either that or they think they’re far cleverer than they actually are.