The Futureheads – News & Tributes
Label: Vagrant Records/Star Time International
Release Date: June 13, 2006
News & Tributes puts me in a difficult position as a reviewer. The dancey post-punk filling the disc is easily likable. But at the same time, the music is even easier to forget. Much like this sentence (or paragraph or “career”), The Futureheads will be satisfactory in the immediate present. However, when I look back at my CD collection in a year or ten, will I even remember what type of music this is? Obviously, it’s too early to tell. When I’m 30 and my wife is at work (I’ll be a stay-at-home dad) and the kids are napping, I’ll put the disc back in… and probably forget about it just as easily.
The fast and disjointed riffs throughout News & Tributes are definitely catchy, but when they overpower Barry Hyde’s smooth baritone on “The Return of the Berserker” and “Worry About It Later”, things get frustrating. Much stronger than any riff are easily the vocal harmonies. The slow, moody “News & Tributes” not only creates a sing-along atmosphere, but it also preaches of activism. Without scolding anyone, the band easily infuses a little politics and humanitarianism into the lyrics. And as someone who usually bathes in his own ignorant bliss, this was a nice toweling off.
A pop-punk fanboy like myself typically gravitates towards faster tracks. News & Tributes features plenty of these songs (“Fallout”, “Favours For Favours”), but I was more impressed by the slower, vocally rich tracks (‘Face”, “Thursday”). However, the album doesn’t stray much from these two song types. As I arrived at the finale, “Help Us Out”, the frantic, 80’s Britpop riff seemed to blend with just about every other upbeat song on the album. Not helping things much, Hyde is forced to sing quickly, which drastically cuts down on his vocal range. With a fair number of good ballads to choose from (“Back to the Sea”), The Futureheads left me disappointed with another immediately pleasing, yet ultimately unsatisfactory fist-pumper.
The similarities between this release and Bloc Party’s latest album help to judge this correctly. Fans of A Weekend In The City will certainly enjoy News & Tributes, but will probably only be reminded of superior songs by Bloc Party (or, maybe even The Killers). The substantial amount of time I spent with this release did little to change my gloomy outlook. But in our (happily) oversaturated music market, the few days you might spend with this before the next “best thing ever!” could be a grand time.
Recommended If You Like: Bloc Party, The Killers, $5 lapdances, Devo, one-hitters