The most telling fact about the Juan Maclean’s The Future Will Come is, quite shockingly, a statement from John Maclean himself: “In my career as the Juan Maclean, my guiding principle was to start out more dance-y and instrumental, and someday bow out, making flat-out, three-and-a-half minute pop songs.” A noble goal if ever there was one — someone who knows that what they’re doing can flatten a city block with three and a half minutes of audio. It is probably because of this intention that seven out of the ten tracks on The Future Will Come dance around the short end, despite the fact that most of the attention given to the Juan Maclean has focused on that project’s longer tracks, notably this disc’s closer, “Happy House.”
But for all of the things it does right, The Future Will Come makes clear that there is still some distance between the Juan Maclean’s desire to make hit-and-run pop gems and John Maclean and company’s ability in that department. The album’s best three tracks are its three longest: the previously released cuts “Happy House” and “The Simple Life” and the ten-minute jam “Tonight.” The other seven tracks are pumped full of style and strut, feeding heavily off of Maclean’s conviction. Unfortunately, though many of them reach and certainly satisfy, they never match the grandeur and satisfcation of the record’s longer tracks, which is probably only a true disappointment to Maclean himself.
The Future Will Come is a pretty percussive record, with each track containing stabs of melody here and there. This tendency toward this beat-reliance is one of the things that pushes Maclean further off course in his pop journey. Conversely, the frequent presence of full-time collaborator Nancy Whang’s voice on many of the songs adds an extra element of melody that largely sees the record’s intention true to the end.
Coincidentally, the tracks where Maclean sings by himself are the album’s weakest. After the white-knuckled futurism of “The Simple Life,” Maclean slows it way down with “The Future Will Come,” a song whose simple rhythm and bloodless vocals dislodge the listener from the warp speed of the previous track. The quiet and serious “Human Disaster” is a track that feels awkward surrounded with so much funk and bounce. Especially proceeding the joyous and confident “Happy House.”
Of course, the Juan Maclean is on the road to getting it right, if they haven’t already. The most clear evidence of this is single “One Day,” with its urgent male-female interplay. Also, the shorter tracks that follow album linchpin “Tonight” are bright evidence that John Maclean knows how to get where he wants to go. Unfortunately, this still doesn’t change the fact that The Future Will Come‘s longest tracks make the Juan Maclean’s opus-leaning present sound real real good.