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March 2000 Pick of the Month
Welcome to the Future
Artist: Believable Picnic
Label: Absolute Records
Length: 11 tracks/36:04 minutes

When Believable Picnic released their self-titled debut in 1996, people wondered if the band sounded at all like PFR. Jade Hanson was, after all, PFR's Joel Hanson's older brother. But no, the grunge rock that was Believable Picnic could not be compared to PFR's mellow pop. Yet three years later, the sophomore project of Believable Picnic once again begs the question: "Can this be compared to PFR?" And strangely enough, the band that was turning up amplifiers several years ago has now adapted a sound that at times could be compared to a slightly more quirky and harder PFR. 

Still, fans of PFR will not necessarily enjoy Welcome to the Future. Believable Picnic refuses to make a sound that can be put in a box. A lot of their music is influenced by older bands such as the Beatles and the Beach Boys, but there is something very fresh about this album that makes it one heck of an enjoyable listen every time 'round. From the bouncy "Rollercoaster" to surfie "Ride the Wave," Believable Picnic created some of the best music I've heard this year. 

Jeff Bridges (who played drums on their debut) has left, and original member Jason Burkum has replaced him. The biggest change though has been the addition of a keyboard, manned by newcomer Nick Ayres. Grunge has been almost completely eliminated from the Believable Picnic play-list. Notable exception: "Shed My Skin," which manages to place itself halfway between the sound of Believable Picnic and Welcome to the Future. The album closes with "Hollywood Appeal," which is similar to "Vegas Car Chasers," the dark and moody ending to Silage's album of the same name. 

One thing Believable Picnic has not changed over the past three years, apart from a little maturing, are the lyrics. "Rollercoaster" will have listeners wiping the dust off their dictionaries, but the meaning comes through loud and clear: Life is like going on a roller coaster for the first time--we need someone to hold our hands, to help us through. "Sugar" speaks of people watering down the message of the Bible till it suits them, ignoring whatever they want. But a true sense of creativity can be felt in "Little Ditty@108 bpm," which is about, well, creativity:

Here's an easy answer
It's in 4/4 time 'bout 108 beats a minute
I hope you get it
So very simple it'll blow your mind
At how we ever did it
(And) now you can't forget it
Found a formula sticks in your head
(There's) nothing you can do about it;
Can't live without it
3 chords and nothing to prove;
An infectious groove
There's no doubt about it
We're gonna make you shout it
Welcome to the Future is a huge leap forward for Believable Picnic. However, others will miss grungy rockers like "Wasted" and "Big Fat Nothing." Believable Picnic has moved on, losing an audience and making a new one. If the future is gonna be like this, I can't wait till tomorrow arrives!

Eric Daams 2/7/2000

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