It never ceases to amaze me how young some of today’s best bands are. For the last couple months, I’ve had The Futureheads’ self-titled debut on heavy rotation at work, at home and in my car. It’s impressive enough that the Sunderland foursome have crafted one of the finest British punk albums of the decade, but when you take into account that the band’s members are all between the ages of 18 and 21, it’s even more appalling. For the first time in my life, I’ve passed the age where I was younger than all of the bands I listen to, and from here on out, it’s going to be the other way around.
Kids though they may be, The Futureheads are absurdly good. Punk-tinged British pop hasn’t sounded this good since Supergrass were barely legal and Elastica were a band. In just 33 minutes, these English lads cram 14 high-energy new wave anthems, owing much to the class of ’77 as well as current UK favorites Franz Ferdinand. First and foremost, The Futureheads are jagged and abrasive, incorporating harsh, Wire-y guitar on tracks like “Robot” and “Alms.” But The Futureheads are also tuneful and fun, evident in the “do-do-do”s of leadoff track “Le Garage” or the driving jangly hook of “A to B.”
One particularly awesome thing about The Futureheads is that every member of the band sings. Sometimes it’s merely for background effect, as in the arse-kicking “Carnival Kids.” And other times, as in the mostly a cappella “Danger of the Water,” The Futureheads sing four part harmonies, putting the vocals at the forefront of their music. But there’s not a single track on here that leaves the singing to just one guy, though Barry Hyde does take on most of the lead duties.
The Futureheads is such an enjoyable listen that the only frustrating thing is picking a favorite song. “Le Garage” is the perfect song, displaying more dynamics than most bands do on entire albums. “A to B” is pure adrenaline rush. “Decent Days and Nights” and “Meantime” are among the catchiest songs of the year. And “Man Ray” sees the band shedding their gleeful merry pranksterism for a more abrasive post-punk sound. Take into account that the band does a truly kick ass version of Kate Bush’s “Hounds of Love” and you’re left with a daunting task of choosing which songs make it to your next mix tape, let alone your year-end list.
I can accept that The Futureheads are younger than I am. Really, I can. But I just can’t get over how awesome they are. No matter how short or simple their songs are, they’re so well-written that it’s unlikely that they’ll ever get old. If The Futureheads is the band’s Pink Flag, I can’t wait to hear their Chairs Missing.
XTC – White Music
Wire – Pink Flag
The Jam – All Mod Cons
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.