[JANGLE FOLK] Dave Shur is a master of taking somberness and peppering it with giddiness and goofballery. He's a melodic acrobat who can lull you into a folksy, dreamlike haze then snap you right out of it with a subtle assault of pop bliss that teeters on bubblegum without losing its flavor.
On the Shur-led quintet Future Historians' third effort, Somehow It Is Now, the group has matured beyond its excellent previous records. That's not to say the group has ditched its knack for lacing lamentation with sugary bouts and "doo doo doo" choruses—those flourishes remain, though with less frequency, on an album marked by an increasingly mellow and soulful blend of folk, country and rock. It's a record of contrasts, bounding between goofy rock numbers and laid-back balladry. Shur's acoustic-guitar strumming is punctuated by Andrew Stern's electric licks, which cut through songs like the twangy "So Long" and "This House Don't Rattle," which starts as a plucky folk tune before exploding into an all-out stomp-rock ruckus with the refrain "I lost a step/ I fell behind/ I lost my nerve and fell in line."
Perhaps most indicative of the band's continued growth are the tracks that bookend the record. The opener, "Golden Age"—with Shur's ethereal lyrics evoking childlike images of traveling the globe prodded along by Rob Iggulden's driving drums—could well be mistaken for a Graceland-era Paul Simon outtake with added jangle pop. And the closing track, "Good Life"—which the band has played live for some time—is a feel-good anthem that laces together everything that makes the band great, with goofy lyrics about a couple's journey through a world of sex tapes, rock tours and big-kid jobs set to an alt-country, jangle-rock tune that sticks in your head as much for its sweetness as its structure. It's the perfect destination point for an album that plays like a journey through every emotion imaginable, held together by the glue of absurdism and bliss. Even when that adhesive is awash in tears, it sticks with you.
SEE IT: Future Historians play Doug Fir Lounge on Wednesday, June 20, with Desert Noises and the World Radiant. 8 pm. $5. 21+.