The Futureheads
Powers


3.5
great

Review

by SandwichBubble USER (22 Reviews)
August 30th, 2019 | 34 replies


Release Date: 08/30/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Futureheads arrive, revived and ready to move

About 7 years ago, The Futureheads released the baffiling a cappella album/experiment Rant to unanimous confusion from reviewers and listeners alike. For a band that spent the entirety of their career in what seemed to be a tailspin, this seemed to be the moment they finally crashed in a heaping blaze of infamy. After Rant, there was little on the Futureheads front. The band’s members went off to do their own music or just take up other jobs. Even the band’s lead singer, Barry Hyde, was in training to become a chef of all things. For a moment in time, it seemed like that was it for what was once one of the most promising up-and-coming indie rock bands.

Troubles behind the scenes began to unfold as well, with Hyde being diagnosed with bipolar disorder after living with manic breakdowns since the beginning of his music career (at the all-too-young age of 19). While this information only came out a few years removed from Rant’s release, it does paint a picture of a band very clearly splintering apart at exactly the right moment. The bottom line is: this decade has been unusually and excessively cruel to the Futureheads.

So when they returned from their hiatus with the explosive track “Jekyll”, I was more than a little confused. A band that was (for all intents, constructions, and purposes) dead seemed to re-animate right before my very eyes. Those angular guitars, those yelping vocals, that sing-a-long chorus: it was the Futureheads. Not the Futureheads from a decade ago, not even the Futureheads from their debut. But a bolder, more focused sound that was immediately refreshing to the ears. A revival.

On the album front, “Jekyll” goes directly into another released single “Good Night Out”. A more mid-tempo tune, it doesn’t have that same energy that made me instantly adore “Jekyll”, but it does work as a fairly standard, yet catchy tune. Thankfully, these more tepid tracks (fellow single “Listen, Little Man!”, the Strokes-like “7:04”, “Stranger in a New Town”) take a back seat to the more impactful tracks. The delightful new wave stylings of “Electric Shock” hide what is easily the most intriguing part of this new album: the darker themes. Knowing what the band has gone through this decade, this shift is a no-brainer, and they pull it off remarkably well here. Many songs on Powers seem to directly reference Barry Hyde’s experiences dealing with his recently-diagnosed disorder. The most obvious of these is the aptly-titled “Headcase”, whose lyrics leave little up to interpretation:

“Can you please just sit down?”
”Why can't you take a pause?”
”There's no one at the door.”

But nowhere is this done better than on “Animus”, possibly the band’s best song to date. A personal account of Hyde’s, the song directly reflects how he lost the ability to perform basic adult tasks as a result of being under the guidance of a manager. He felt as if he had no autonomy, no qualifications. Which explains why he would go on to pursue a new career away from music: to regain his control.

“Is your life a fantasy?"
"Of everything that you can't be?"
"Maybe you could get things done.”

Powers most likely won’t signify the start of another “post-punk revival”. So much time has passed since that 2004 debut and there are bound to be those that say this new one doesn’t reach those heights. But Powers will be remembered, at least in my eyes, as a revival for the Futureheads. The album that brought the band back into my good graces. Even with its weaker moments, there is an energy on Powers that we haven’t seen from this group in a very long time. It's true after all, “only movement can set you free”.



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user ratings (10)
3.3
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
SandwichBubble
August 30th 2019


10104 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Mr. "Posts reviews at 2:20 AM" is back.



Album is truly very good. Give it a shot, all 4 of you.

Also there's a hurricane headed directly towards my house, so if I do end up kicking the bucket, at least the Futureheads made another good album before I died. Know that I'll die truly content.

Digging: A Witness - Red Snake

zakalwe
August 30th 2019


28541 Comments


lol

SandwichBubble
August 30th 2019


10104 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

If my final written work is a positive Futureheads review, that's more than fine with me.

But really truly cross my heart, this is actually pretty good. So listen to it, please and thank you.

zakalwe
August 30th 2019


28541 Comments


I used to absolutely love the debut, other stuff from the band has been tepid but I’ll give this a go

SandwichBubble
August 30th 2019


10104 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

That debut was on constant rotation for me back in 04, no doubts about that. I loved that thing.

Think I might have overplayed it though, cause I only go back to a few songs on it now.



Hope you do end up trying it. Don't hate me if you disagree, but the song "Across the Border" off this has a beginning bit that sounds a lot like Sleaford Mods, in the line delivery sense.

anatelier
August 30th 2019


2874 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review. Would never have expected to enjoy a new Futureheads album but this is pretty good. The synth line in Electric Shock is way too similar to the Stranger Things theme lol

Pheromone
August 30th 2019


7254 Comments


Never expected you to be the Futureheads type Sand! Proper XFM core that.

Can't remember eve listening to anything full by them, though I suspect maybe the first with how hyped they were.

Digging: Chore - Another Plebeian

SandwichBubble
August 30th 2019


10104 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, that synth work is pretty damn good there anatelier. I still haven't seen Stranger Things, I'll have to take your word on that front.



You better believe 2004 me was jamming that debut nonstop Phero. I had it at a 4.5 here initially, purely based on that feeling of first jamming it back then. Now it's (sadly) dropped to a 3.0.



Really do think this is a bit better than the debut, but I suspect I'll be in the minority there.

SandwichBubble
August 30th 2019


10104 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Featured? Now that's what's up. Thanks mods.

The journey to 4 ratings truly begins now.

gimo80
August 30th 2019


232 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Well I was the third one to rate it ha!



Criminally underrated band, I remember coming out at the same time as Kaiser Chiefs, Bloc Party, The Killers, etc...and for some reason I recall their second album totally flopping despite it being really solid.



This is way better than The Chaos, so much stronger in its songwriting. Hopefully it'll break the top 40 UK album chart!

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2019


10117 Comments


Nice review my man, feature deserved.

Digging: WRVTH - No Rising Sun

DoofDoof
August 30th 2019


5111 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This was an ok album but they do lean heavy on those 'woah-oh-ohhh' style backing vocals

zakalwe
August 30th 2019


28541 Comments


Love a bit of ‘woah-oh-ohhh’ backing vox

SandwichBubble
August 30th 2019


10104 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks all.

And those in the know know that the woahs here are imperative, don't get it confused doof.

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
August 30th 2019


15028 Comments


oh cool they’re good again

SandwichBubble
August 31st 2019


10104 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Only took them 15 years. For a 2000s one album wonder, that's considered speedy.

anatelier
August 31st 2019


2874 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

They'll have always had a space in my heart for the Hounds of Love cover

SandwichBubble
August 31st 2019


10104 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm gonna say something that might get me flogged here, but

I don't really think their cover of it is that great.

And as far as singles go (I think Hounds of Love was a single), Meantime was always my favorite.

anatelier
August 31st 2019


2874 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I won’t flog you, that cover just ties me to my adolescence and I think it’s just deftly done, creatively approached. It nails the balance of keeping enough of the original and delivering their own spin. Also love Decent Days and Nights.

SandwichBubble
August 31st 2019


10104 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I guess I can agree on that front, it is well done enough for a cover. Faves of the debut are Meantime, Man Ray, and Trying Not to Think About Time



Faves off this one are Animus (still gonna say that this is their best song for now), Jekyll, and Headcase. I've been playing this nonstop since writing this, only gets better and better.



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