Is it okay to just say that this album makes me rapturously happy? Can that be the full review?
You’d probably like more than that. Future Child from Canadian duo Mi’ens is out today on Kill Rock Stars, and it’s goddamned beautiful. Mi’ens (say it “mittens” without the tt) is Kim Glennie on guitar, loops, Moog, and vocals, with Evan Heggen providing some of my favorite drumming I’ve heard within this genre in years.
Each track on Future Child is its own lovely and angular something, flirting with the duality of being both frenetic and perfectly controlled. Does that sound like effusive, hoity-toity record talk? Yeah, but it’s true.
One of the pitfalls of most of the genre descriptors you’d associate with Mi’ens—art rock, math rock, noise rock—is that they can get burdensome, and fast. The rhythm and the build, no matter how well constructed, no matter how otherwise engaging, have the potential to become ponderous pseudo-intellectual slogs when not properly reined in.
Mi’ens, and Future Child avoid those pitfalls, skilfully and fucking fantastically. Mi’ens is what smart kids dance to.
For a lyrically sparse album, there’s a recurrence of space imagery: both escape from Earth and attempted connection to what else might be out there. Inspiration from Cold War era films and nods to alien abduction are woven through recorded drums played backwards and bits of what sound like B-movie score. The album’s closer, “Mondlandung,” is, according to KRS-supplied descriptions from the band, Glennie’s meditation on the Apollo 11 moon landing and the role of computer scientist Margaret Hamilton in its software development.
It’s a leitmotif you’d have to dig for, if the cover of the album and its multiple moons wasn’t handy. But it’s worth bringing up, because if, like me, you feel yourself increasingly uneasy wading through the shrapnel of 2020, there’s comfort in both the progress and escape of the imagery.
Maybe you’re just here for the math, and you’re well taken care of there. Mi’ens, as a band, has a favorite time signature: 11/4, beautifully described by Glennie as “a waltz with a limp.” It appears twice in Future Child, both on “Nu11 Set” and on “Ice Cream Ponies,” two songs that are the clearest example of the “sparklepop” descriptor Mi’ens applies to itself.
It’s amazing the intensity you’ll find in a band who incorporates that into their self-identification. I don’t say that as a jab—even experimental music has the ability—nay, the right—to sparkle. But if you’re the type that needs your music dour and intense as hell, don’t let the descriptor deter you. Mi’ens will go toe to toe with your expectations and will trounce you. Dance-y, noisy, math-y, and just fuckin’ lovely.