Sometimes getting straight to the point is an effective way to review a CD. And nothing can be more apt than directly and rather bluntly stating that The Chaos, the fourth full-length album by The Futureheads is nothing short of brilliant. After leaping over the third-album hurdle with a certain measure of caution and dexterity with This is Not the Word, their fourth effort finally allows the band to rein in their unbridled, Devo-like exuberance first heard on their self-titled debut, yet mix it with some of the heartfelt, beautiful melodies from News and Tributes.
The result? An insanely intelligent mixture of high-octane, foot-stomping riffs and forceful, choppy vocals like on “Heartbeat Song,” and the weirdly otherworldly album closer, “Jupiter” – with some ear-bending guitar work thrown in between. These lads like to play hard, fast and well and are more than willing to warp audience expectations of how rock – Britpop especially – should sound. Taking some insanely fast riffs and weird time signatures on “The Connector,” for example, and blending them with hollow, speedy vocals shouldn’t work – but it does, in a highly pleasant, almost amusing way.
In fact, despite all this tricky guitar work, The Futureheads let their solid sense of humor and down to earth sentiment shine through, like on tracks like “Sun Goes Down.” In this eerily anthemic song, the band seem to hint at the recent vampire obsession/phenomenon, but turn it into a thudding, almost desperate deluge of guitars and soaring vocals.
One of the best things about The Futureheads is their consistent, tight-as-skinny-jeans songwriting. The lads can play some whacked out rhythm, change it up midway through a song and still sing in tight and pretty four-part harmonies. They also write a seemingly simple pop song – such as the album’s title track – and with a memorable riff, some bold vocals and a dizzying pace, keep it stuck firmly between listeners ears. If The Futureheads are presenting the future of Britpop, by all means, bring it on.