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My musical ramblings – gig and album reviews, music news and views

The Futureheads: The Chaos – album review

The Futureheads: The Chaos

Don’t be fooled by the title, there’s nothing truly chaotic about this fourth album from everyone’s choice for band-I’d-most-like-to-have-a-beer-with, The Futureheads. Underneath these 13 blood vessel-bursting tracks, there is order; and it’s mathematically precise and energetic.

It’s as if the band knew a bit about Chaos Theory before recording this album. After all, in lamens terms, it’s about studying the behaviour of dynamic systems – four Mackem lads – that are highly sensitive to the initial conditions they are placed in – also known as their former record deal where they felt restricted from taking the creative direction they really desired. In short, according to this particular theory, the rocky past The Futureheads experienced at their outset has made them into the band they are now. And that’s no bad thing.

Even if The Chaos is not actually an album that spirals out of control, initially, it has all the aural appearance of doing so. Only each of its tracks is tightly constrained by metaphorical reigns which consistently have to claw its breakneck drums and fierce riffs back from the brink.

“5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Let’s go!” announces the album with title track, The Chaos, as guitars vigorously explore the scales– ‘pay attention,’ say The Futureheads, ‘we’re doing it our way now’.

Latest single, Struck Dumb offers neatly packaged social comment and has, perhaps purposefully, an air of ‘better the devil you know’ reminiscing irony about the presence of 679 Recordings standing over their shoulders.

The Futureheads really do feel like a band whose history should be divided into two volumes. News and Tributes and their self-titled debut were packed full of stop-start dizzying hits and tight, boyish harmonies. Whether they enjoyed those times or not, musically, they stood streets ahead of This Is Not The World.

The Chaos brings them right back up to speed. Momentum is piqued in the mid-section with Stop The Noise, The Connector and I Can Do That – three tracks which are a deft combination of hook-happy, dense, energetic riffs and exhausting drums, with more than a touch of creative, arty oddness that the band has always had a penchant for. On The Connector there’s even a place for shouty, rolled Rs punctuating the chorus with a ‘boo!’.

Terrified vocals shared amongst Barry, Ross and Jaff pave the way for the horror house, Sun Goes Down. With sinking realisation they declare, “The sun goes down and the double life begins, it’s a one way ticket to the city of sin,” before fleeing from the fright night with screams, crashing drum rhythms and out-of-control guitars.

Impossible harmonies are cradled by silence at the start of Jupiter – easily the album’s most unusual track with a mix of other worldliness, a touch of Queen a la Bohemian Rhapsody and that lyrical wit and musical inventiveness you’ve waited for since Back to the Sea on News and Tributes, or Decent Days and Nights on the debut.

It’s an emphatic end. Everything stops. And with all the theatrical effect you’d expect from The Futureheads, Jupiter is repeated, louder and louder until one last blast before a chance to catch breath. The recovery is quick and leaves you wanting to start again.

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