by Annie Fell (@zitremedies)
Torres’ latest album, Three Futures, has been marketed as an exploration of embracing one’s body as a mechanism of joy rather than shame. While the theme is one of the most prominent throughout the album, Three Futures seems to be overwhelmingly influenced by the artist’s move to New York City. Her 2015 breakout album Sprinter was rife with allusions to her childhood in Georgia, set to classically gritty indie rock. Three Futures, on the other hand, is a more abstract expression of her growth that’s reminiscent of ‘70s art rock.
Torres—also known as Mackenzie Scott—moved from Nashville to Brooklyn within the past few years, a fact that is both implicit and explicit in the tone of the record. On “Tongue Slap Your Brains Out,” the album’s opener, Scott chants, “I know you'd never dreamed/ I'd become a damn yankee.” The song is addressed to unnamed parent, most likely her mother, who has a writing credit on the album’s closer, “To Be Given A Body.” The subtext of the album’s celebration of pleasure and physicality is Scott’s attempt to reconcile her newfound physical and emotional freedom with her upbringing in the Southern Baptist community of her hometown, Macon, Georgia.
The majority of the album is comparatively upbeat and kinetic. On “Righteous Woman,” Scott quips, “I am not a righteous woman/ I’m more of an ass man.” She references biblical passages while lamenting her “flesh that’s far too willing,” but, mind you, isn’t apologizing for it. The album’s first single, “Skim,” is complex and winding, with Scott showing off her talent as a guitarist and composer.
The most striking part of Three Futures is its accompanying music videos. “Skim” depicts Scott moving through an empty house, save for the disembodied hands groping her. At the climax of the video, Scott, dressed in a perfectly tailored suit (sans shirt and bra), sensuously plays a woman’s leg like it’s her guitar. Scott appropriates classic rock star machismo through her objectification of the faceless women, but without the sleaze factor. The video for “Three Futures” takes place in the same house, but this time depicts Scott as a housewife and two butch-leaning androgynous characters. The three characters symbolize the titular “three futures;” their interactions feel claustrophobic in the tiny house, culminating in an eerie group sex scene. No matter what the future holds, Scott is going to prioritize herself.
The album has a markedly New York feel, not only in its evocation of 70s art rock, but also in its exploration of the temptation that is an unavoidable part living in a city in which essentially anything and everything is readily available at all times. The androgyny and overt queerness in the album’s lyrical content and visuals are perhaps what make Scott a “damn yankee”—identifying as queer in New York City is much different than identifying as queer in suburban Georgia, and the fact that Scott’s sexuality isn’t presented as a political statement on the album is evidence of that.
While Scott is exercising her right to not feel ashamed of her sexuality, Three Futures is defined by a pervasive sense of guilt regarding her growth. “Tongue Slap Your Brains Out” closes with the line: “If only you could see/ it's still the Georgia winds that move me.” Shirking society’s expectations is one thing, but it’s much harder to ignore what your family wants for (or, sometimes more accurately, of) you. Scott has broken out of her shell, both professionally and, seemingly, personally; it’s tough to reconcile that with the version of you seen by those who’ve known you the longest. Nobody has one singular true self—the version of yourself that you present to the world can be just as “real” as the version you present to your family. But, regardless of authenticity, the version that Scott has chosen to share on Three Futures is thrilling.