THE FUTUREHEADS – The Chaos (Nul Recordings)

While I have been a fan of the Futureheads right from the beginning, even I would have to admit that neither of their last two albums lived up to or expanded on their superb debut release. So it is all the more surprising that their fourth album does just that, and is easily their best set of songs since ‘The Futureheads’. As soon as the title track blasted from the speakers I knew I was in for a treat, and so it proved to be, with the rest of the songs keeping up the relentless pace of that first track. A quick intro, a countdown from 5,4,3,2,1, and we are away at breakneck speed on a song replete with the band’s trademark angular guitars and catchy choruses. ‘Struck Dumb’ follows with one of their most commercial offerings, and new single ‘Heartbeat Song’ shows that it was not a one-off, being another radio-friendly song combining a memorable hook with upfront guitars and typically jerky rhythms. ‘Stop The Noise’ has a slightly harder edge to it, and ‘The Connector’ somehow manages to up the pace, incorporating a great punky guitar sound on an old-school new wave tune. The driving beat of ‘I Can Do That’ carries the song through some excellent spikey guitar, to end with a somewhat incongruous quote from Orville The Duck. ‘Sun Goes Down’ starts quietly, and we might think we are in for a bit of a respite, but it soon picks up speed, and if anything ends up even more manic that some of the preceeding tracks. ‘This Is The Life’ has one of their most convoluted riffs married to the catchiest of choruses, designed to show just what we have been missing out on since that first album. ‘Dart At The Map’ slows down the pace ever so slightly, and does seem to lack the killer punch of earlier songs, but ‘Jupiter’ more than makes up for it with another song packed full of catchy riffs and quirky rhythms. The hidden track at the end, ‘Living On Life’, is an accomplished a-capella vocal piece, which is as catchy as hell, and just reinforces the fact that this band are the purveyors of some great three-minute pop songs. A tad under 40 minutes later and it is all over, although it seem to have sped by in half that time – always the sign of a great album, and even on the first hearing I knew that this record signalled a fantastic return to form for the Futureheads, which hopefully they can now build on to reclaim their position as one of our best home-grown bands.

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