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The Futureheads - The Futureheads

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Artist: The Futureheads

Album: The Futureheads

Label: Sire

Review date: Jan. 13, 2005

Ah, Heads of the Future. I see. Or from the future. The Futureheads didn't do themselves any favor with their choice of moniker. It conjures a sort of hypermechanized, blandly dystopian facelessness. And it doesn't help when the album cover shows the band, literally without faces. Or when they take turns announcing, to the rigid four-snare beat: "I am a robot!"

Now, when the Futureheads play up this "futuristic" faceless quality in their lyrics, as with "Robot" or “Meantime” (“you are a decent person and you have a function”) or the chipper corporate-cog tchune "First Day" ("we are so happy to have you join the team!") they're just being cheeky. They don't actually condone any of this homogenization business, as they let you know by singing about it in clipped bursts and shards of unpretty harmony, all in airtight 150 second segments. Heads with cheeks, then, and not plastic shit-eating grins.

But what will the future want with today’s instant gratification? What will time tell, as canon-revisionism grows ever more instantaneous? Rock and roll is, of course, timeless. Sounds stick around, or come back, because they work, and retro – ’80s or otherwise – may be a convenient tag, but every new band we slap it with inches us closer to giving the lie to the cliché. If the sound is relevant enough to be so prevalent (again or still), it's de facto a sound of today, n'est pas? Anyway, the same sort of folks that want to listen to Wire today will find plenty to reap here in 20 years.

But do I want to listen to the Futureheads? At first, I didn’t know until after the fact, when I found some of those harmonic slivers lodged in my brain and demanding replay. “Decent Days and Nights” is pretty undeniable, pogo-pop whose central riff is a straight-up open octave with a bit of rhythmic elaboration. "Carnival Kids" boasts a break-it-down-and-build-it-up chiming choral coda that echoes the New Pornographers' "Testament to Youth in Verse.”

This kind of pop (that’s all it is folks) is about moments, and these Heads have enough on their shoulders to keep the moments coming, hard and often enough to keep me listening even after, their moment has passed. And plenty of us should be happy to pass some time with these blokes for the present, even if it’s not, ultimately, where our future heads.

By K. Ross Hoffman

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