|The Futureheads - The Futureheads|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Paul Lingas|
|Tuesday, 26 October 2004|
The Futureheads is a funky and very “now”-sounding album that seems to slide around the throwback ‘80s/garage rock sound that’s currently popular and infuses its own sort of hip and irreverent spin on poppy, bubbly rock. Personally, I like the fact that they have tracks titled “Robot” and “Man Ray.” Anyway, the Sunderland, England foursome are apparently very into the democratic process when it comes to the band and it shows in the way they sort of sound like a lot of things (mostly late ‘70s and early ‘80s pop) but manage to sound at least temporarily unique due to their many influences and style changes.
Frontman Barry Hyde keeps his Northern England twang full frontal, beginning with “Le Garage,” a funky dirge that complements its uppitiness with some nice guitar licks. With Jaff on bass, Dave Hyde (Barry’s little brother) on drums and Ross Millard on guitars, the quartet also share the vocal duties, though Barry does most of the fronting. Each song’s rippin’ tempo is transfixed by the boppity choruses, each one of which will get stuck in your head only until the next track’s chorus is sprung upon you. As Barry Hyde offers, regarding the obviously frenetic way the band plays, “We wanted to make startling, surprising, sensational music. Most bands…didn’t even look like they were enjoying it [performing].”
“Danger of the Water” is a piece that has little accompaniment to its Beatles/The Who harmonic vocals, almost sounding like an updated version of the barbershop quartet, while “First Day” just keeps getting faster and faster. Just to be clear, though the tempos are generally quick and the pace frenetic, they are by no means just a loud bunch of string twangers. “Decent Days and Nights” is a perfect example of this heightened sense of pace, along with the feeling that they’re from the early MTV generation, and the single “Hounds of Love” nicely exemplifies both the overall vocal and musical talents. It’s no wonder much of the band’s popularity can be traced largely to these two songs. “Robot” sounds like a bit of an homage to Devo, another example of the group’s variety of influences. (As an aside, my neighbor when I was a kid in the early ‘80s had a go-cart that he named the Devomobile. You just can’t get any cooler than that.) The frenetic nature of the music is complimented by the fact that most of the tracks are short. The entire album is only 36 minutes long, and at 15 tracks, that makes for some quick songs. The short nature of the tracks and of the album as a whole helps to fight the pervading sense that there is less here than it would seem. One can hope that some of the simple though effective arrangements The Futureheads currently employ will evolve into some more sophisticated songwriting of equal pace and similar style.
Former Gang of Four guitarist Andy Gill and Paul Epworth shared the producing duties and they were smart and bold enough to do most of the recordings for this album live. While this can compromise certain aspects of the sound, The Futureheads are so much a four-piece medley group that it’s important for them to play together at the same time, especially since all four of them sing. The album contains songs that hearken back to the band’s inception in 2000 and it is easy to see how and why these four gentlemen care only for their music and the joy it brings them and their audiences. Hopefully they’ll stay that way and not start caring about the success that has already begun to visit them.