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The Futureheads:: S/T (Album Review)

Well, no-one’s going to mistake this for ‘Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space’ in a hurry. And, to be honest, if you’re going to make any mistakes at all where this album’s concerned then you’re going to have to do it in as much of a hurry as possible. In its original form – that’s minus their glorious cover of ‘Hounds Of Love’, of course – this is a 14-track, 33-minute affair, and, like all the most intense and intoxicating of affairs, it crackles with an urgency that suggests a fear of being caught out. Good call! See, at every turn ‘The Futureheads’ is a confident, rampant holler that bristles with the energies of prime new wave, the proselytising vigour of the most barnstorming white soul, and the wry, cerebral kickback of most of the artier artists of the last thirty years. They’re also nothing if not a genius pop band too, as was evidenced spectacularly on debut single proper ‘First Day’, with its elevation of the mundane, gleeful springiness and insistent, uncalled-for accelerations, and showcased many times over here. In fact, if anything was ever an element of crossover in the 80s, it’s probably on here somewhere. There’s a glut of tribal rhythms and Burundi wallop a la the Ants – just look at ‘Stupid And Shallow’ or the affably stop-start ‘A To B’ – and, rather more rarely, there’s a strong sense of the Housemartins here, especially in the harmonies on ‘He Knows’ (the only track that clocks in anywhere over the three-minute mark. Why, that’s practically prog, that is!) and the brilliant ‘Danger Of The Water’, but it’s all done in a fashion that’s not only so reverent but also so playful that it ends up sounding like essentially no-one else at the moment, which is the stuff of smartness indeed. Who else would trundle through the clockwork crystallinisms of ‘Le Garage’? Or the, well, exploding teardrops that cascade through ‘Alms’? Moreover, and we suspect this is going to be a welcome feature in these post-Franz Ferdinand times, the whole thing’s performed in the band’s own Sunderland accents, which lend proceedings even further conviction and softens the likes of forthcoming single ‘Decent Days And Nights’ in the wake of their almost exhaustive irrepressibility. Yes, ‘The Futureheads’ might, ironically, be something of a blast from the past. But what a blast! (Iain Moffat)