Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Futureheads - The Chaos (Nul Records)

“5-4-3-2-1 Lets’ Go!” And so begins the fourth album by Sunderland’s not-so-new wave punksters, The Futureheads. They first came to emerged 6 years ago with their self-titled debut, but it was probably 2005 when they really grabbed people’s attention with their cover of Kate Bush’s ‘Hounds Of Love’, named Best Single of the year, by the NME. Their songs quirky sense of fun, and its’ weirdness captured the band. It opened doors for them, winning them support slots for major bands like The Foo Fighters, and TV appearances.

It’s fair to say the record also became something of an albatross for the band, misrepresenting them as a commercial entity alongside more obvious indie brethren like the Fratellis and the Pigeon Detectives, when the Futureheads are probably a more serious, earnest enterprise.

Unsurprisingly dropped by their label 679 Recordings in 2006, after becoming disillusioned with the mainstream, their interview on our very own pages reads this moment as one of liberation. Personally, I loved the record that followed, This Is Not The World, it’s lead single ‘Beginning Of The Twist’ delivering an urgency, and singular power pop kick, while the record as a whole explored their quirkier side.

For me, The Chaos continues this trend. While ‘Heartbeat Song’ offers a clear nod to commercial success with its’ simple pop love song formula, the record as a whole is a driving, urgent piece, full of allusions to being disaffected with the society and politics of Britain 2010.

Whether it’s the title track, and opener, ‘The Chaos’, where Barry Hyde despairs, “We’ve been told a lie, but you still toe the line,” or ‘Sun Goes Down’ where daytime workers go out at night to escape their soul-destroying drudgery, as “the double life begins”. While there’s definitely anger on The Chaos, The Futureheads still do fun, too, with songs like The Connector, a silly, Queen-influenced piece.

Overall, The Chaos sees the Futureheads find their place in music, following a groove set by the previous record, TINTW. It’s a place that’s unlikely to win them large numbers of new fans - it’s clear the band have eschewed a place alongside watered-down A-List Tesco-chasing bands like Snow Patrol. We live in musical era when, for example, The Courteeners’ Liam Fray recently shared his ambition to be as big as U2, while the likes of Dizzee Rascal and Plan B have made a pop records to please their bank managers. The concept of size and profile seems to be more important than quality, staying true to ones’ roots and authenticity. For that reason, The Chaos should be applauded, as a refreshingly humble labour of love.

Abbas Ali

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