Make yourself pretty just for one last time
Another question answered: Wire’s more and more frequent turns in taking lead vocals isn’t necessary because of his desire to front a band. The Future Has Been Here 4 Ever (there’s that four again) was originally conceived with James in mind but the band felt like his vocals sounded too clean and correct to really fit with the song, and thus Wire’s croon was put into the spotlight. Which is where it started with anyway – Future is one of Wire’s songs and it’s him singing in the song’s original demo as well.
The other big talking point besides Wire’s lead vocals is the mighty return of Sean’s trumpet. It’s the first time since Horses Under Starlight that the trumpet is actually taking a proper lead element rather than simply playing the solo instead of the guitar. The lead melody of the song belongs to the trumpet and there’s rarely a moment when Sean’s not there to bring that lovely sound to front. The lack of your usual Manics lead melody instruments is already enough to make the song a rather big stylistical standout in the band’s vast catalogue – add Wire’s lead vocals, the gospel choir in the chorus and the robotic half-synthetic rhythm and you’ve got one hell of a bizarre track.
It’s still catchy and poppy though like the majority of its parent album, and in fact it’s one of the instantly catchiest parts of the whole album. The rhythm finds its way to the back of one’s head immediately thanks to that hypnotically mechanic nature, the trumpet offers some brilliant parts (especially the more ‘nasal’ melody of the second verse is lovely) and the chorus is just great – Wire crooning, backed by a highly trained gospel choir. The opposites work perfectly together. All the off-the-cuff elements turn the song into something a bit loopy, a bit loony. And for its credit, Future takes the best possible advantage of that. It seems to exist in its own little world and its appearance at the end of Postcards is like an accidental peek to that place.
In a fit of amusing coincidence, both one of my favourite lyrical parts and least favourite lyrical parts are present in this song. The chorus is the great thing: “The|My future has been here forever/The future’s still unclear… whatever”. It’s that “whatever” that makes it special. It’s a small thing but there’s some insane power to that brushoff that tells introspection and fear of the future to sod off and stop clogging up the present. And then in the second verse you have the “Like the Godfather 3/I can never escape” part that continues to prove that not everything in this world works as a direct, namechecking reference without sounding extremely clunky.
I’m not as massively over the moon over Future as I was when I heard it for the first time, but it’s still one of Postcards’ notable big moments. If only for the fact that it’s the big peak of light to help one get through the otherwise rather flopping final stretch of the album.