Almost ten years into defining experimental noise-rock, the New York nucleus of BJ Warshaw and Dan Friel are still at it with their now fifth album proper. Less arty than their last, which drew on fans' submissions to create a "collage" rather than an album, Constant Future is a return to the pair's bread and butter.
As such, their hook-laden noise is wholly approachable when comparing it to (white)noise terrorists like, say, Kevin Drumm, and also far cleaner in terms of fidelity than, say, the early incarnations of Times New Viking. And, as perhaps can be expected therefore, it would seem that 2011's Parts & Labor are very much functioning as elder statesmen of a niche rock genre often do.
Maturity breeds confidence, but it also breeds complacency, and Constant Future is an amalgamation of both. So, although we find spiky keyboard patterns bathing in distortion, buzzing passages of retro-futurist drone and, crucially, mesmerising melodies aplenty under the Constant Future banner, equally do we find a lack of invention and shrug-worthy song-craft. At one point, "Hurricane" even lapses into the sort of beefy instrumental joke Fang Island attempted to peddle last year.
The result is surprisingly poppy, sounding not unlike Sunset Rubdown if Spencer Krug were to have a greater predilection for mucking about with keyboards, as well as fewer concessions to grandeur. Yet, what is also evident is an acute case of consistency. Constant Future nails the first half of its given title in this respect, but it also fails to provide many - if any - standout moments. In this environment, few tracks are discernible from the mix. For example, the keys are always pitched at the same skitter, the drums always snappy and prominent.
Logically, it's a struggle to label an album both experimental and safe, but it's a juxtaposition with which Constant Future, if not Parts & Labor, may have to live.