Band: Once and Future Band | Album: Deleted Scenes | Genre: Progressive pop, Jazz-rock | Year: 2020
From: Oakland, USA | Label: Castle Face Records
For fans of: Steely Dan, Electric Light Orchestra, Roxy Music, The Alan Parsons Project
Deleted Scenes is the second album from Oakland prog-pop outfit Once and Future Band (hereafter called OAFB). I was introduced to them via their self-titled 2017 album, which was their first full length release. Their self-titled is a sunny slice of prog-pop with ample jazz and folk touches. However, almost every song on that album felt one to two minutes too long.
The songs on Deleted Scenes are more focused than on OAFB’s self-titled, much to this record’s benefit. Rich electric pianos and synthesizer tones take center stage for most of the album, and vocalist Joel Robinow has just the right tone and timbre to complement it.
“Andromeda” opens the record with unpretentious piano chords and guitar embellishments. The song skillfully shifts themes, and the many ideas feel unrushed. The second half of the song features a wonderfully jazzy, Patrick Moraz-esque synth solo that builds to a gratifying climax. In contrast to this energetic opening, the second song, “Automatic Air”, maintains a slow pace. The multilayered vocals contribute to this song’s airy feel, along with the glimmering piano.
“Problem Addict” begins with some clavinet and electric guitar lines that sound like they’re right out of Alan Parsons’s debut album. It has a downcast feel, but OAFB’s inherent warmth seeps through. This warmth can also clearly be heard in the country-tinged, Beatlesesque “Freaks”.
The instrumental “Several Bullets in My Head” is the first point on the album where I felt a song overstayed its welcome, but it wasn’t by much. It helps that the song’s second half is stronger than its first. “Mr. G”, another instrumental, has some fun funk vibes and deft soloing.
The album’s title track is slightly slower than most other songs, but it maintains a strong sense of urgency. “Airplane” is the simplest song on the album. Its relatively spare, acoustic arrangement serves as a refreshing contrast to all the preceding dense layers of keyboards.
Deleted Scenes closes on its strongest song, the nine-minute instrumental “The End and the Beginning”. Opening with plain piano, it gradually builds in grandeur with the addition of jazzy percussion, wordless vocals, and gentle brass arrangements. The drumming is fantastic throughout this whole album, but it’s especially noteworthy here. Some of the darker, heavier moments in this song give vague echoes of Van der Graaf Generator and Magma.
Deleted Scenes is exactly the sort of album I was hoping for out of OAFB. They took the upbeat, prog-pop of their debut, stripped away most of the bloat, and added in some more adventurous elements.