The Futureheads – Powers (Album Review)



The hounds are loose, feel the magic, feel the roar, The Futureheads are loose. Future-Future-Future FUTUREHEADS.

Not sure where that came from.

Where have they been? They released their a cappella record fifth LP ‘Rant’ in 2012 but then……puff…..they were gone.

This was partly down to frontman Barry Hyde’s bipolar diagnosis, and they abandoned any idea of a sixth album.

Instead of destroying them, it has made them stronger, and the trauma has bled into the lyrics of a number of the songs on ‘Powers’.

The glory of The Futureheads has always been their ability to remain fresh, to remain intense and engaged. So easy it is grow those laurels and settle into them, arms behind the head and reclining on the successful debut and big single that becomes a national radio staple. It always seemed to be of little interest and each album was a clean slate, whether they reached the same song writing heights is up for debate, but it was never phoned in, part baked.

It helps that their style of angular, jagged and jarring guitar indie rock is a constant, and its eminently danceable. Keep still to ‘Decent Days and Nights’ I dare you. I double dare you. It isn’t possible.

There is little change here except they have turned the amps up to 11 and taken bits from all their past outputs to create a new monster.

‘Jekyll’ immediately slaps you in the face like all beginnings of Futureheads records and is very apparent that this documents Barry’s mental health issues.

As with almost all records from British bands over the past 3 years, Brexit rears it’s ugly, revolting head on ‘Across the Border’ where the North Easts penchant for galloping wildly at the exits is challenged, as with much of the country where Leave won, there are the dissenting voices. Those voices include furious Ross Millard who spits out a furious tirade that resembles Idles in its anger.

‘Good Night Out’ encapsulates what the creation of this record is all about, friends back together, a gang, and reconnecting and recollecting and that just being in the same room, having a beer and laughing is enough. That a song so strong comes from such a sentiment is life affirming. There are more important things than being in a band but those things can make the band.

Underpinning this, and every Futureheads LP is the indomitable Dave Hyde, his expressionless, straight back drumming technique, unflinching, he looks as if he is barely moving and you can picture all this throughout the record.

‘Idle Hands’ is a perfect example with a riff running throughout that is more than a close relative of ‘Meantime’ from the debut eponymous album.

‘Mortals’ takes its lead from the a cappella with the harmonic quadruple vocals that is their trademark slowly building a lyric word by word reaching the pinnacle crescendo contemplating life and death. If Queen had changed tack in the early 80’s and gone Post Punk.

Powers is a beautiful thing because it exists, because they are still making their music, their way and it still sounds like they are enjoying themselves whilst they do it.