Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Futureheads - News and Tributes

The Futureheads - News and Tributes (4/5)

Lazy critics lumped The Futureheads in with the whole neo-new wave/angular movement without much thought. However, once you scrape away the glossy sheen it becomes apparent that The Futureheads offer much more: a cappella harmonies, British invasion melodies, and post-hardcore guitars were often found within a single song. Each ingredient was added with some thought to the other, and none were overpowering. With their myriad of influences The Futureheads were poised for a colorful and diverse new album to eclipse their debut.

Did they succeed? Well, yes and no. This is a Futureheads album so the good far outweighs the bad, and while News and Tributes certainly expands The Futureheads’ sound, it fails to best their debut. Of course, nothing short of the second coming could have satisfactorily followed up the best album of 2004.

News and Tributes lacks the razor sharp edge The Futureheads used to carve out the taunt songs on their debut. At times this works to their advantage on the Brill Building-ish “Thursday” and some of the poppier numbers (“Skip to the End,” “Fallout,” and “Worry About it Later”), but when things get too slow the songs don’t hold together as well. “Burnt,” for example, seems obligatorily heartfelt. Tellingly, two of my favorite songs – “Yes/No” and “Area” – could have been b-sides from their eponymous album.

However, the aforementioned “Thursday” shows that the band isn’t afraid of letting a single style dominate, and the fact that this song exists on the same album that houses “Return of the Berserker” – faster than anything seen on their debut – proves that The Futureheads have the kind of range other bands couldn’t cohesively keep together. What does keep this album together is the simple fact that these guys are great songwriters with no shortage of ideas.

Now that The Futureheads have shown their range you can be certain this album will be in my rotation until their third one marries diversity with consistency. When that happens I’ll be well prepared for the sky to crack open and The Futureheads to lead us to the promised land.

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