On paper, This Frontier Needs Heroes' choice to call their new album The Future, and the album's first song "Space Baby," might look like a drastic departure from campfire folk into sci-fi television scoring. But titles aside, Brad and Jessica Lauretti's sophomore release comes from a place grounded far beneath the milky way, and a future far more immediate than one where infants can float around in zero gravity. With The Future, the Laurettis take their interpretation of traditional Americana and update it for present day, offering anthems for the recession and urbanization era. The result is a simple but sincere album much like modern America itself -- restless, cautiously optimistic, and in search of change.
Brad is still the lyrical centerpiece of The Future, telling tales of forgotten gunslingers and best forgotten relationships. But his sister Jessica plays a bigger role this time around, deftly manipulating the album's mood by ranging her backing vocals from haunted to hopeful to honky tonk, or whatever else the current song calls for. While the Brooklyn natives' music channels decades of heartland history, Brad's lyrics similarly reference storytelling legends like Hunter S. Thompson and Ovid. This adds a layer of depth to songs like "Key West," a seemingly tongue-in-cheek tale that starts in Margaritaville and ends with a retelling of Ernest Hemingway's suicide.
Though it draws inspiration from a wealth of musicians and storytellers, The Future documents a band that is steadily becoming more confident with its own sound. "Reckless Girl" finds This Frontier Needs Heroes at their most endearing, with Brad's pensive and playful monologue about girls and understanding the way our complicated world works… in that order. The Laurettis' take on tales of Calamity Jane, Wild Bill and Atlantis are enjoyable, but their best stories are the ones they tell firsthand.