In the music scene today, there may be no band that sounds like it's having more fun than the Futureheads. Their bouncy dancepunk tunes are catchy, gritty-edged, danceable -- and above all, the guys sound like they're having a absolutely glorious time.
A pal of mine went to a Futureheads concert and confided that the crowd didn't move at all. That's hard to imagine -- after a mild buildup of vocal harmonies and guitar riffs, the catchiness kicks in with the rapid-fire percussion. "And I won't say what if it's true/Le garage (le garage-RAGE!)" the guys shout in the opener.
Things don't die down after that, from the Devo-esque "Robot" to the heavy-guitar, dadaesque "Man Ray." Not that everything is all the same -- the Futureheads are one of the few rock bands who don't rely on the same riffs and beats to achieve catchiness. They manage different kinds of catchiness -- herky-jerky, relentless, fragmented and poppy.
The only exception is "Danger of the Water," a song that is almost a capella, with Barry Hynde solemnly singing, as his bandmates chant "do do, do do" in the background. Okay, there's a tiny keyboard melody, but it's almost indiscernable -- and it's surprisingly entrancing when the song builds up to a tense climax ("Danger... water/Danger... water!"), followed by a yell from Hynde. Only imagine what happens next.
Despite comparisons to Franz Ferdinand, the Futureheads smack more of Devo-and-XTX-meets-the-Ramones. The jangly guitars, solid drums and bass are all wonderfully assured, but the vocal harmonies are the really good stuff. Hynde does most of the singing, but the other guys weave in and out without a single sonic burp.
Sure, it's not perfect. But the energy and fun of the Futureheads' debut can't be denied. A solid, fun, catchy dancepunk album.
on 17 March 2006
After a few months with Futureheads in my music library and countless listens through their entire catalogue of songs, mainly from this album, I felt I had to write a review considering the totally lunacy of some previous reviewers comments. Dull and unimaginative are about the two words you could least ever use to describe The Futureheads music.
It is incredibly catchy, never bores you to skip to the next track, is constantly amusing and thumps you into smiling uncontrollably. I'm no music afficianado but I find their sound to be the most unique I've heard in a long time, in a time when many other bands coming about are really quite bland copies and meshes of everything that's come before. To say The Futureheads are dull and indistinctive is utter nonsense. Even if you don't personally like their sound, which I admit will be an acquired taste to some, to say they lack originality is plain wrong.
All I can say for sure is that I have listened to this album and many of their B-sides on a continuous loop for hours, nights at a time, and they have cheered me up when I've been down, they've re-energised me when I was tired, they've done so so much for me and if you give them a chance then the only downside you might encounter will be that none of your other music will get a chance because this is all you'll ever want to play.
Technically they have a brilliant sound, very few slow songs, but even those that are slow like Danger Of The Water have a brilliant composition and soul which many bands I've been recommended to simply lack. As for the lyrics, they fit in with the mood of the music, some of them are silly, most of them are very abrupt and jumpy, it's not fully formed sentences merely fitted into a song, it's thoughts and silly little phrases, with their context kept intact by the sillyness and randomness of the music itself. It fits together, and there is sense to be made, plus it also leaves the listener to make up their own interpretations, something any form of art should try and do more of, rather than be told the sad literal story of the lead singer's poor love life etc. This is beauty, life, soul, art.. all on a piece of plastic which I urge anyone with a bit of open mindedness and courage to buy. Now!
on 22 July 2004
This album is absolutely stunning, almost as good as seeing one of this band's stonking live shows. The Futureheads have their basic roots in guitar-based indie/alternative music, with a strong punk feel and attitude. But that's just the starting point. They have a wide variety of musical influences which they wrap up in a tight bundle of stomping tunes, crashing instruments and vocal harmonies. All four band members sing, but not necessarily the same things at the same time. They punctuate songs with delirious vocals, whip-smart guitar, bass and drums and dizzying changes in pace, intensity or even tune whenever they feel like it. But they always carry you along with them wherever they go. They somehow combine the best punky singalongability (is that a word?) with real depth and experiments in sound.
There is not a weak track on this album. There is also nothing longer than about three minutes on the album either. In true punk style they strip away the unnecessary guitar breaks, chorus repeats and twiddly bits other bands use as padding, leaving two to three minutes of perfectly formed song. But there is nothing basic here. They fill every second of their songs with meaty hooks, melodies of all kinds as well as superb vocals, from straight singing to whatever shouts and noises they can pack in to a spare second. Two or even three tunes, some of which don't sound like they should work in a song, often vie for space in one track, all under the complete control of this talented foursome. Some songs have so much going on that you can't believe only two and a half minutes have elapsed by the time they finish, but they are all put seamlessly together.
It's hard to believe this is their debut album because it sounds like a best of, from infectious stompalong anthems like Decent Days and Nights (released July 26th as a single), brooding powerhouse tracks like Manray, the melodic but edgy Meantime and the fragile beauty of Danger of the Water. That's not to mention their stunning punk reimagining of Kate Bush's classic Hounds of Love with four voices acting almost like an orchestra over scuzzy guitars. There's at least eight songs on here that most bands would have as their flagship single to put them on the map, and the other tracks would still stand out on most people's records, they just have the courage to explore other, often murkier waters.
This album has got everything - immediate tunes, songs that grow on you, varied moods and pace, and it definitely rewards repeated listening. You can sing along and just enjoy 15 killer tracks or you can really listen, and you will be repaid with thoughtful lyrics and themes and all kinds of hidden depths in the music. The Futureheads deserve to be the biggest band in the world, but whatever else, they are certainly the most exciting act to arrive in a very long time.
on 9 September 2005
Some of the reviews on here amaze me. This is a classic from start to finish, A unique album from a truly unique band. These lads have grafted for years to get to where they are now and good luck to them. The live experience is a step up from the album - a prime example of what a good band should be, energetic, humourous, adventurous and accesible. The recent B-sides on the latest singles suggest the follow up album will be equally as good.
on 4 July 2004
It's rare that I listen to an album and get the impression that "yeah, I'm so glad that I know about this band and no-one else does". I had that feeling with Oasis - it soon passed. So it's with some reserve that, although I want to wax lyrically about this amazing record until my fingers drop off, I'm afraid my actions may trigger all-out record buying pandemonium.
So, reasons why this album is the best thing I've heard in a long, long time...
1. Post-moderism rocks! I love a band who wear their influences on their sleeves rather than poncing around by saying "oh yeah, we ARE unique". In a year which has seen / will see albums released by others of a similar ilk (Dogs Die In Hot Cars, The Killers), The Futureheads' LP is a fabulous statement for recycling dated trash and making it more relevant than it ever was. It's a storage solution IKEA would envy...
2. Music is meant to be fun. And loud. This is. Live with it. Every track is a zinger (even "Danger In The Water", which in sounding like at an attempt of Garage Gospel a la The Housemartins is so out of place it's like Cliff Richard fronting Napalm Death). "Decent Days And Nights" is THE single of the year - a rip-snorting post-punkathon built around a chugga-chugga riff so close to an adrenalised version of "My Sherona" it makes your smile ear to ear. And "Robot" sounds nothing like The Jam - I should know, Woking's about 20 minutes from my house.
3. It's the perfect album to listen to on the way to work. It has bounce and vibrancy, but more importantly a mischeviousness and innocent prankster inclination about it. To fully understand this, stand at Redhill Station on a Monday morning, stare at people and smile whilst listening. The only other album that gives me the same sensation is Wire's Pink Flag, but whereas that's best for urban taunting (try listening to it and reciting the lyrics to "Mr Suit" to the men in pinstripes), The Futureheads' LP is much better for sparsely populated suburban platform chaos. And if there's a better song about starting a new job than "First Day", I quit.
4. You have to do something when you listen to this record - you can't just SIT. Play air guitar, hum, whistle, dance, drive fast. The best art (and this IS art) demands you interact.
I could go on and on... Bear in mind I've only got the promo - missing "Hounds Of Love" (a cover of the Kate Bush track?). Rest assured, however, this won't stop me ordering the full version. And why? I haven't been this excited about a band for a very long time.
I'm moving to Sunderland - there must be something in the water...
on 29 August 2005
This is the first time I've EVER been interested enough in the way that someone has commented on Amazon to actually respond. I just couldn't believe the bad reviews that this album got! Of course everyone's entitled to their own opinion but I have to disagree with most of what has been said previously - I love this album! I don't "only like it cos it is trendy", I bought the album a year ago after hearing the song "Meantime", which I thought was hilarious. It's about those conversations that you don't really want to have with people that you don't particularly like ("I said you were a moron/When I said it I was smiling, so you'd think that I was joking") - Come on! Who hasn't been there? The Futureheads are one of the most unique bands around at the moment - it's completely unfair (and rather lazy) to bracket them with bands such as The Kaiser Chiefs and Razorlight. This band is all about the vocals. The syncopated harmonies are gorgeous; most bands could only dream of singing anything so complex! And when was the last time you heard The Kaiser Chiefs do something as wonderfully bizarre as a Kate Bush cover?! And it works! I know that it can be irritating to see unoriginal bands succeed just because they've been hyped so much by certain music magazines, but The Futureheads deserve all the hype they get! Oh and they're fantastic live too - I didn't think they'd be able to pull it off and was pleasantly surprised to be proved wrong!
OK rant over. In the interest of trying to retain some objectivity, this album ISN'T perfect and I wouldn't try to pretend that it was. For instance, some of the lyrics are pretty nonsensical and some of the tracks are disappointingly inconsequential. "Decent Days And Nights" is one that I particularly dislike, I was surprised that it was released as a single. Overall, however, this is a debut effort to be proud of. If you want to listen to an album that's genuinely unlike anything else that's around at the moment, a bit crazy, often funny, and musically superior to most of the current popular "indie rock" bands, try this one! My favourite tracks are "Meantime", "First Day", "Hounds Of Love" and the wonderfully creepy "Danger Of The Water". I would urge the previous reviewers to give this band another listen - just because something's popular doesn't make it any less valid! Eagerly awaiting a second album...
on 21 July 2004
They don't really sound like '80s throwbacks to me. They aren't comparable to some second rate Brit Pop group. They are The Futureheads, and to me they are the cat's whiskers. Listening to the way these guys craft their songs, I can tell they are certainly some hard working gents. The songs are tightly woven, with intricate guitars and tons and tons of those brilliant layered vocals. They sing in unison, they sing in strange four part harmonies, they sing acapella. The lyrics are short and concise, like Chinese poetry. The album feels very efficient. It makes me feel warm inside, and despite the fact that some pompous critics may play the "sounds like" game, my only instinct when reviewing this album is the feeling the songs give me, and the feelings are great. Highly recommended.
on 14 September 2004
In an excellent year for British guitar bands, the Futureheads may have made the one essential album. Come to think of it, there are moments on their debut that make some of their contemporaries look embarrasing. 'First day', a frantic description of the first day of a menial job sounds like the kind of track the Ordinary Boys would kill to create.
So what makes this album so great? The secret is also the reason why the album is not the most immediate of records. Clocking in at around 35 minutes, the album has 15 tracks. Barely a second is wasted, as each tracks brims with energy and invention. It is so dense, yet so succinct instead of picking best tracks, best moments seems more apt. The killer, brazenly simple octave- changing riff in 'decent days and nights'? The speeding up bit in 'first day'? The distincly odd time signature in 'the city is here for you to use'? The vocal harmonies in 'le garage'? On that point, how many art- punk bands can you think of who would open an album just with do-da-do-do singing?
Buy it. Buy two copies- contradicting myself I am biased towards 'decent days and nights' and wore my first copy out due to that track.
On its release, this 2004 debut album from The Futureheads came across as something of a pleasant surprise to this listener. With its 15 sub-3 minute (OK, two run just over the 3 minute mark) songs, a level of rhythmic vibrancy and melody (hook) to be relished, plus the novelty of acapella singing thrown in to boot, it almost took me back to that most magical of musical eras, punk. Indeed, listening again to the album, there are a whole host of influences/similarities I can detect - the chopping guitar sound reminiscent of Gang Of Four's Andy Gill, the beginning of Robot harking back to The Jam's A Bomb In Wardour Street, and Stupid And Shallow (and, indeed, the sound of the album more generally) calling to mind Hope Is Important-era Idlewild. Oh, and if I remember correctly, live, guitarist Barry Hyde's right leg had a Strummer-esque habit of pumping along to the beat.
Having said this, such influences are certainly nothing to be ashamed of, and this is an impressive collection of original songs, plus the addition of their superb cover of Kate Bush's Hounds Of Love. Subject-wise, the songs cover a plethora of concerns with the modern world, such as social conformity (Robots, 'I have no mind'), the superficiality of modern day relationships (Meantime), the perils and demands of ageing (Trying Not To Think), a cynical take on job progression (First Day, 'this is the job that people die for'), the potential benefits of city life (The City Is Here For You To Use, with its Gang Of Four-sounding riff) and failed relationships (Danger Of The Water, with its superb and subtle acapella). Even better, however, are the superb guitar hooks that form the backbone of Decent Days And Nights, with its tale of increasing confusion with modern life, Carnival Kids, a warning against the perils of youths being led astray and He Knows, with its take on child abduction. Finally, a word or two for Stupid And Shallow, with its hilarious (obscenities with the background harmonies) take on the (perhaps) less intelligent members of society, and Man Ray, an inventive tale (with particularly vibrant riff) of jealous love, cast in the form of a metaphor of Man Ray's black and white photography.
Not an absolute classic, but certainly an energetic and innovative-sounding debut album (which the band followed up impressively with News And Tributes in 2006).
The Futureheads were just one of countless young indie-rock bands who exploded onto the scene in the early 2000s. Loaded with energy and attitude, and with guitar-driven songs to die for, these men who Sunderland's debut album still remains one of my all-time favourites. Unfortunately, the only song of theirs which appears to surface on indie rock compilations these days is their excellent cover of Kate Bush's 'House of Love', their biggest hit and a solid rendition, but they are responsible for so much more good stuff as well. If you came to this page after hearing 'Hounds of Love', then please buy the entire album. This isn't anything new or revolutionary, just simple, fun, bouncy 'feel-good' music', with a strong punk influence.
Other toe-tapping highlights on 'The Futureheads' include the twice top 30 hit 'Decent Days And Nights', the quirky 'Robot', and the chilling acapella 'Danger of the Water', with all four band members on harmonies, and lead vocalist Barry Hyde sounding uncanninly like the great Damon Albarn. The radio mixes of singles 'Hounds of Love' and 'Decent Days And Night' appear at the end of the CD.
Personally, I would strongly advise that you go 'all the way' so to speak and check out the deluxe edition, where you'll get the album plus a bonus DVD with the music videos for the singles, live performances in Newcastle, and interviews with the band. You can purchase it here: The Futureheads [CD + DVD].