A Completely Biased Review of The Near Future by I Fight Dragons

(12-5-2014-12:20am) Bleary-Eyed, I struggle to contain myself as the files navigate from their repository to my computer; zipping through miles of wires, slowly layering bit upon bit of compressed container until, despite my slow internet connection, The Near Future by I Fight Dragons download finally completes, a mere double click away, and a staggering week ahead of the public release. This is the album that I had eagerly backed on Kickstarter nearly 1.5 years ago. This is the album that raised $115,000 of it’s $20,000 goal; ~575% funded. This is the album that saw Bill leave. This is the album that almost ended I Fight Dragons. My relationship with this album was love/hate… until I listened to it. This is now my favorite IFD album.

If you aren’t a fan of I Fight Dragons, then you probably shouldn’t be here. TLDR; buy this album.

Lets momentarily reflect on when I decided to back the album; I didn’t care what it was, I would’ve backed anything. IFD has always been a staple on The Experience Points Radio Show, the members are awesome guys that make awesome music and they deserve my money (and yours). I was enormously excited at the idea of having another album, and my excitement only grew the larger the funded offset got. Somewhere around 250% funded I’m pretty sure I blacked-out from elation… The point is, in all my enthusiasm during the KS campaign and the production period, I had somehow never let it sink in that The Near Future was primarily a story driven album. Bring it on!

The Near Future (story) is told through the leading ten songs, including five instrumental-only tracks. Five additional, non-story related songs follow. With the accompanying graphic novel / lyric sheet I settled in for my first listen. A fantastic 42 minutes later, I started my second listen… Story-wise, TNF weaves the tale of a chance encounter of the protagonist and a mysterious girl. It is revealed that she is from another world, and is trying to find and free her grandfather who has been imprisoned. She has powers, but is unable to use them on Earth. Explained near the end (via the amazing graphic novel), the two share a link that enables the protagonist to wield the girl’s powers. They break the grandfather out, get away, and go through a portal (to the near future???). Awesome concept, awesome execution, happy ears! For most of the album, IFD delivers the same raw chiptune-rock infused excellence that veteran listeners come to expect. However, on choice tracks they borrow from the 50’s/60’s and add a bit of Swing, Rock and Roll, and Early Pop, especially for “Another Week”, and even sprinkle in some western in “Meeting”.

The remaining non-story songs are standalone pieces of excellence, much like what IFD has produced prior to TNF, but super-charged! One of my favorites is “Chicago”, which avid listeners will recognize as being a recycled and updated version from the Well’s Tracks. Cue high-energy songs “No-Strings” and “Pretend” to rock your face off.  “Always” slows it down, balances, and seems similar to IFD’s “Disaster Hearts” or “Not I”. The album ends with “Jimmy and Sally”, a philosophical track about two sides of the singer’s (Brian’s?) personality. Truly spectacular!

In the coming week the physical record will arrive. Expect a follow-up, but anticipate more of the same. Seemingly, the guys from I Fight Dragons don’t know how to fail to impress. The album is available for streaming on Spotify here,  for digital purchase on iTunes here, and physical purchase here; I advise you get it!