Brian Shapiro first formed his band in COVID-19’s long shadow. They didn’t linger there. Shapiro and his cohorts are hitting album number three with the release of You Me Future Now. The ten cut collection showcases the same broad stylistic reach that’s proven a hallmark of Shapiro’s music from the outset. He’s added wrinkles in these songs, unexpected forays that the band pulls off with room to spare, but it solidifies his claim as one of the indie music world’s most idiosyncratic songwriters. His unique take on traditional subject matter and forms may chafe some listeners, but many will accept the challenge. Shapiro follows his own path and compels you to tag along.
There’s appeal in the consistent energy, even urgency, surrounding his best songs. “Drip Drip” doesn’t communicate great lyrical significance but it’s unquestionably suggestive. He never manifests it in a stride fashion, but Shapiro has built a reputation for incorporating strong social consciousness into his songs. Hearing this as a post-punk piece along those lines isn’t much of a stretch. The band dispatches the arrangement with a ribald and freewheeling performance. There isn’t anywhere they won’t go.
Ben Kutner-Duff’s drumming keys the second track “Privacy” with great timing. He navigates the band through a handful of hairy tempo changes without ever veering off course. The band benefits from a two-guitar attack with Shapiro and Rory Flynn playing off one another during every song. Shapiro’s terse elliptical style as a lyricist compliments the arrangements. Some might hear them heavy with affectation while others may hear a band who bear their conceits quite well.
“Better in TX” makes the case for the latter. It’s interesting to hear the Shapiro band venture into hitherto unexplored territory and attempt riffing in a more straightforward style. It will surprise listeners. However, they cannot resist twisting the song’s potential towards their own ends, but they are careful to never overdo it. Second vocalist Amelia Bushell supplies an effective counterpoint to Shapiro’s voice.
His satirical skills stand out in modern music and songwriting. “Are You There, God?” is arguably Shapiro at his most acerbic. He imagines a dialogue between Facebook co-creator Mark Zuckerberg and God as the social media mogul measures their respective plights. Brian Shapiro and his band mates do an excellent job incorporating theatrical elements into an assortment of songs and “Are You There, God?” ranks among the album’s finest,
The often phantasmagorical punk thrash of “If There Really” milks a threadbare lyric for all its worth. It’s a simple yet profound reflection Shapiro screams, snarls, bellows, and unleashes in a multitude of ways. His band mates keep the song crackling in a constant state of transformation. Organ and slide guitar are unexpected focal points for the song without ever sounding unconvincing.
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“Want” takes aim at the gluttonous self-indulgence plaguing so much of modern culture. It alternates between a loping near-ska like tempo and blasts of outright industrial noise. Tying such disparate strands into an unified whole packaged with a sharply observed message takes considerable skill. “Want”, however, comes across as natural as breathing in the hands of Shapiro and his bandmates. You Me Future Now has the same boldness defining The Brian Shapiro Band’s earlier albums and their daring is sharper than ever.