Home > News & Reviews > The Futureheads

The Futureheads - Powers (Album Review)

Monday, 02 September 2019 Written by Jacob Brookman

‘Powers’ is the Futureheads’ sixth studio album and the first since the band went on hiatus following the lukewarm reception to their excellent a capella offering ‘Rant!’ in 2013. It is a return to the thrashy post punk sound that characterised their early success, and while familiar problems arise with several songs, it is a record of intricate and innovative arrangements that should place them firmly back on the European festival circuit next year.

Across the Border is a snarling battering ram of a song that comments on the Brexit mess and perceptions about regions like their hometown of Sunderland, a declining northeastern city that voted to leave the EU despite being clear economic beneficiaries of the union.

As such, Sunderland finds itself doubly maligned—by liberal remainers who see such voting patterns as quixotic and short-sighted, and by the Tory right, who historically mistrust and ignore the leftwing north.

Guitarist and vocalist Ross Millard captures the emotional and political complexity of the situation with great candour: “No-one likes to feel stupid / Stupid is a subjective thing / Subjective is how you feel today / And today's the day you're giving up.”

Elsewhere, Good Night Out is one of the catchier tunes. It occupies familiar ground to post-2005 indie; state-of-the-nation commentary told with wit and irreverence alongside big guitar hooks and a fully loaded chorus. It’s an easy song to admire and certainly one of the standouts, but in certain ways it reveals why the Futureheads tend to find themselves down the indie pecking order, behind contemporaries like Kaiser Chiefs, the Libertines and the outliers, Arctic Monkeys. 

Due to their focus on vocal harmony, Futureheads songs have an intellectual sonic rigour that marks them out, but their overloaded musicality sometimes gets in the way of the melody making. The sound is heavy, but also a little overpowering. Idle Hands is also guilty of this, as is the otherwise excellent Headcase—a track that bravely broaches frontman Barry Hyde’s mental health challenges with integrity and a dash of humour.

Sometimes with pop music, you just want something with emotional softness; maybe even a specifically romantic feminine sensibility, and there’s not much of that on ‘Powers’. Tellingly, their finest hours remain cover versions of other artists’ songs: the superb retelling of Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love from their eponymous first album, and their magical interpretation of Richard Thompson’s Beeswing on ‘Rant’.

There is no shame in your best work being penned by other artists, of course, but these other songs highlight what is missing in the Futureheads' writing, and that makes an otherwise superb album ever so slightly unsatisfying.

The Futureheads Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed September 04 2019 - SUNDERLAND Bonded Warehouse
Fri December 06 2019 - LONDON Electric Ballroom
Sat December 07 2019 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute
Sun December 08 2019 - LEEDS Leeds Beckett Students Union
Fri December 13 2019 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Northumbria Institute
Sat December 14 2019 - GLASGOW QMU
Sun December 15 2019 - MANCHESTER O2 Ritz

Click here to compare & buy The Futureheads Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

Let Us Know What You Think - Leave A Comment!

Related News

What's Your First Line Going To Be? The Futureheads Discuss Their Long-Awaited Return With 'Powers'
Tue 27 Aug 2019
The stars of mid-2000s indie discos are frozen in time in the memories of a lot of people—their music might as well be an advert for sticky floors and test tube shots. And that’s where the Futureheads, who had a couple of songs that were students’ union staples, might still reside in the eyes of some.
The Futureheads Continue To Tease Upcoming Album 'Powers' With Two New Tracks
Thu 04 Jul 2019
The Futureheads have shared two new tracks.
The Futureheads To Perform Debut Album In Full On Winter UK Tour
Mon 10 Jun 2019
The Futureheads have confirmed a December tour on which they'll perform their self-titled debut album in its entirety.
Bombay Bicycle Club Add Second Dublin Show To 2020 Tour Due To Demand
Fri 13 Sep 2019
Bombay Bicycle Club have added an extra date to their upcoming live plans.
Tool - Fear Inoculum (Album Review)
Fri 06 Sep 2019
Photo: Travis Shinn If you’ve waited a long time for something, you might as well spend a long time with it once it finally arrives, right? Tool’s return, after a 13 year absence that amounted to torture for their committed following, is a slow moving, dense work defined by its patient approach. Its steadfast insistence on hitting its marks in its own time, and skipping zero pages in the band’s playbook, will delight diehards.
Ezra Furman - Twelve Nudes (Album Review)
Wed 04 Sep 2019
Seeking to stay true to a punk aesthetic, Ezra Furman and band recorded ‘Twelve Nudes’ at a rapid pace with creative help from booze and cigarettes. And it shows. It doesn’t deliver the production finesse of 2018’s ‘Transangelic Exodus’, but that’s kind of the point.
Charli XCX Shares New Song Miss U From 13 Reasons Why Soundtrack
Fri 23 Aug 2019
Photo: Marcus Cooper Charli XCX has released a new song.
Bat For Lashes Shares New Single Jasmine
Tue 20 Aug 2019
Photo: Logan White Bat For Lashes has shared the next single from her new record.
< Prev   Next >