Essential New Music: Torres’ “Three Futures”

It’s no wonder that former PJ Harvey bandmate and producer Rob Ellis has chosen to work with Mackenzie Scott (a.k.a. Torres). Scott and Harvey share an uncompromising, direct attitude and an affinity for stark-yet-artful arrangements. Three Futures, the third Torres album (and the second produced with Ellis, after 2015’s celebrated Sprinter), builds on stark, often metronomic drum programming and minor-key, sometimes-abrasive drones. (Portishead’s Adrian Utley contributes synthesizers, and Dummy is another reference point.) It’s a bit gothic, with an ominous, dark atmosphere and vocals that can rapidly veer from understated to dramatic. “To be given a body is the greatest gift,” Scott intones on the eight-minute closing track, and on Three Futures she’s often contemplating conflicted physical desires. It’s not an easy listen—“Greener Stretch” is one of the rare songs that has an immediate hook—but it commands, and rewards, attention.

—Steve Klinge