Future is haunted. That much is apparent just from glancing at the cover of either of his new albums, dropped back-to-back (and charting number one in back-to-back weeks (!)). On FUTURE he is gazing blankly through what appears to be the Vitruvian Man Instagram filter with eyes that have seen some things. And on HNDRXX, he is walking pensively through the milky haze that envelopes the heptapods in Arrival.

The heptapods in Arrival also speak a language that articulates non-linear time, and in a way, Future does too. His songs swim in a sort of narcotized ambience, and past and present become murky. His days are filled by drugs, women, and/or crime, and his rare moments of lucidity are spent coming to terms with the repercussions of previous days spent doing drugs, women, and/or crime. Future is tormented, and he is the tormentor, and this cycle moves irrevocably forward.

HENDRXX provides a glimpse into what breaking that cycle might be like, even if that glimpse is illusory. Slipping into his more pop/R&B-inflected persona, Future stretches out, sonically and lyrically. His Sad Robot croak blooms into a croon over softer, soaring production, and he sounds like he may be something close to happy. On 'Incredible', he sings, "I was havin' trust issues/ But I been havin' better luck with you/I know it's true love with you" and details cute texting and couples hot yoga like he's in some sort of blissful rom-com montage.

'Incredible' is an astonishingly lucid and sincere profession of love, but Future already seems to know that this love won't last. On 'Neva Missa Lost', he sings, "I'm losin' you and you know it... I can never miss a loss." And on 'Turn On Me', he confesses, "With this dope in my system I know you gon' turn on me... I told you from the start you was gon' turn on me." It's unclear how his drug use relates to his knowing that his girl will leave him. Perhaps his drug use hurts their relationship, or it fuels his paranoia that their relationship will fail; regardless, he sees it from the beginning. He's suffocating in self-fulfilling prophecies, already bemoaning the loss of the love he just now briefly found.

Future isn't "happy" on HNDRXX any more than Trump sounded "presidential" in his last speech. While wrapped in appealing tonal shifts, the content and character remain the same. Future is still miserable and haunted by his past because he knows that his past points to what is to come. Fittingly, the album ends with 'Sorry', where the hook ends, "Ain't really mean to hurt you/Ain't really tryin'." Ain't really tryin'. He's simply a victim of his fate, going through the motions, rendered numb by his wounds. That these wounds are largely self-inflicted give his music the ambiguity that keeps it interesting despite his prolific output.

In this way, the Future moniker seems less about optimism or innovation than about resignation. He walks numbly to his fate, haunted by sins he hasn't even committed yet.

Read Chase McMullen's review of Future's self-titled album by heading here.