Album Review: The Futureheads – ‘The Chaos’ (Nul)

Beneath the familiar spikiness, there’s enough off-kilter derangement to justify the bold title

[a]The Futureheads[/a] are a bit like the art-pop Heinz beans; despite the occasional professed new and improved recipe they’ll always reliably and essentially remain the same. You might stray over to a newer, seemingly more exciting pulse, but you’ll always end up crawling back because there’s no beating a bit of spiky, saucy familiarity.

From the outset then, [b]‘The Chaos’[/b] is undeniably a vintage ’Heads album, its [i]“Five, four, three, two, one… GO”[/i] opening gambit recalling the teetering anticipation that begins [b]‘Man Ray’[/b], wrapped around a [b]‘The Beginning Of The Twist’[/b]-esque driving guitar romp underscored by a slightly wobbly, off-kilter discordance. So, basically all the good bits of their previous three efforts distilled into one song. [b]‘The Baron’[/b], too, treads a similar path, the post punk clatter at its core as comfortingly recognisable as a favourite nook in the sofa but with enough [b]XTC[/b]-ish oddball tinges to keep the interest sparked, while single [b]‘Heartbeat Song’[/b] flashes by in two-and-a-half minutes of no-nonsense Mackem indie-punk.

It’s with the surprisingly bleak [b]‘Sun Goes Down’[/b], however, that the album’s dramatic title finally starts to click into place. Yes, the spiky edges and distinguishable vocals are still present, but, as the recognisable jerk-and-thrash chorus descends there’s a myriad of tormented howls that’d give [b]Lars Von Trier[/b] the willies. It’s a hint of… well, chaos, that shows a different side to Sunderland’s most lovable.

Maybe it’s the continued freedom that comes with being your own boss (as with 2008’s [b]‘This Is Not The World’[/b], [b]‘The Chaos’[/b] is issued on their own label, Nul Records), or maybe it’s a delayed reaction to their reported near-split a few years back, but there’s certainly something up because [b]‘Jupiter’[/b]’s opening harmonics are as mad as a box of frogs. If Queen had relocated up north to pen ditties about the solar system, you’d be vaguely close to its sound. The fact that, as quickly as they appeared, the vocal anomalies are replaced by a choppy guitar lick makes it all the more bizarre, like some kind of bemusing hallucination.

Though [a]The Futureheads[/a]’ established formula still sticks steadfast, there are enough wild cards peppered throughout to prove that, far from stuck in a rut, they’re still moving playfully forward. This is chaos you can revel in.

[b]Lisa Wright[/b]

[i]What do you think of the album? Let us know by posting a comment below.[/i]

Click here to get your copy of The Futureheads’ ‘The Chaos’ from the Rough Trade shop