Album Review: The Futureheads – The Chaos

By on Tuesday, 4th May 2010 at 2:00 pm
 

Sunderland’s rock / punk band Futureheads have released their fourth album ‘The Chaos’. The title seems apt; since the release of their last album, 2008’s ‘This is Not the World’, the world has we have known it has spiralled downward further in recession and numerous natural disasters (floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions) have occurred. Maybe the four-piece is clairvoyant? They certainly have 11 tracks that feel like they could be written for impending doom, judging by the sheer power of their instruments and the vocals yelled out by Barry Hyde and Ross Milland.

If the only song you’ve heard from this album is the excellent ‘Heartbeat Song’, you might be forgiven if you had the mindset that this was going to be a poppy record. I think they’ll probably be sore at me for saying it, but ‘Heartbeat Song’ is a cutesy but punchy, shortish pop-tinged rock number that belies the band’s post-punk roots. I’m half expecting half-dressed tweenies showing up at their American shows in June because they heard this song and knew nothing else of their back catalogue. Check out the promo video for the song below – it’s just damn cute, with Barry Hyde singing with such conviction as if his life depended on it. It’s a perfectly crafted piece of music.

‘Struck Dumb’, with its banging guitars, is another example on the record that should be proof positive that these blokes know how to write a hit song. Songs like ‘The Connector’, ‘I Can Do That’ and ‘The Baron’ let their punk tendencies shine through. The guitars sound good with the frenetic, spat-out lyrics; the problem is that they all start to bleed together in your head with sometimes muddling instrumentation, and any that don’t have a memorable hook are likely to be easily forgotten. The album ends with ‘Jupiter’ (the ‘god’ of the planets according to astrology) and a hidden a cappella track, the latter seeming entirely out of character for the Futureheads. If you were looking for a raucous, majestic punk ending to this long-player, you might be disappointed.

This is a fun record and you can hear the fun the band had in making it. Unfortunately, I think in the process of enjoying themselves, they forgot they were making an album for other people and ended up recording some pieces more difficult for swallowing by what Eddie Argos of Art Brut refers to as ‘the record-buying public’ (average Joe Schmoes who like inoffensive, middle of the road music). You know, people who consider certain songs jarring and shocking if they’re heard on your sound system at home when you’re all by yourself.

Unless of course you’re truly a punk kid at heart and can go wild to the sound of crashing guitars and screaming vocals in such a setting. Me? I need to see a band like this ‘in their natural habitat’, the live stage, jumping around the causing a scene. And I have every intention to see them when they come to America in June.

7/10

‘The Chaos’, the fourth studio album from the Futureheads, is available now from their own independent record label Nul Records.

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