The Futureheads : Decent Days And Nights

Your brain may never be the same...

Listen to it stoned and it becomes

a Nabokovian mind-puzzle, a Rubik's cube of dizzying harmonics and cryptic hieroglyphic yelpings about clues and answers, barked at you in bewilderingly broad Mackem accents. Listen to it after a gullet-load of mushrooms and it's some kind of three-minute sonic prophet, explaining the mysteries of the universe via the ancient mediums of the post-punk melodia. Listen to it pissed and you'll probably just want to dance like a loon.

And therein lies the multi-faceted brilliance of The Futureheads' 'Decent Days And Nights'. Before they disappeared off the radar sometime around last Christmas with an ultra-limited vinyl-only cover of Kate Bush's 'Hounds Of Love', they were the kind of band that music journalists lazily invent compound adjectives like jitterpunk and agit-pop for: they were - and remain - a little bit nerdy, a little bit pissed off and (back in the day, at any rate) a little bit too content to mask the occasional tuneless dirge behind crafty four-part harmonies.

For those whose eyes rarely wander from the Top 40, however, this will be their first introduction to these XTC-fixated pop boffins with their dizzying harmonics and cranium-frying melodies, and what a first impression it'll make. Guitars smash'n'grabbed from Jam's 'Down In

The Tube Station At Midnight', lyrics nabbed off Catchphrase ("SAY!/What you SEE!") but with a jerky-perky spasm all its own, 'Decent Days...' rattles along under the firm belief that its head is a magic eight-ball and the meaning of life will eventually become clear if it shakes it hard enough. Franz Ferdinand might have beaten them to the punch in taking obscure early-'80s indie to the masses, and four bookish northerners in NHS spectacles are unlikely to cause Strokes-like levels of pant-dampening, yet this remains utterly thrilling pop music from beginning to end.

Barry Nicholson

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