The Futureheads have just returned after a seven year absence with the release of their excellent sixth studio album “Powers”. As it had seemed that the band were no more, this was great news for fans. Even better is that it sits comfortably with their previous work in both quality and sound. For those that don’t know much about them, let me introduce you to The Futureheads.
Hailing from Sunderland in the North-East of England, the four piece are Barry Hyde (vocals and guitar), sibling Dave Hyde (drums), Ross Millard (vocals and guitar) and David “Jaff” Craig (vocals and bass guitar). They formed in December 2000, released a couple of EPs before “First Day” was released as their debut single in August 2003.
Their self-titled debut album came out in the UK in July 2004 to almost universal acclaim. Containing 15 tracks but coming in at under 37 minutes, the majority of the songs are fast-paced post-punk but with vocal harmonies that made their sound stand-out. “Decent Days and Nights” broke into the UK Top 40 but it was a cover of Kate’s Bush “Hounds of Love” which really put them on the map and was NME’s Single of 2005.
Second Album “News and Tributes” followed in May 2006. Less immediate and more polished than their debut, it garnered good reviews and reached No.12 in the UK Album Charts. This did not translate into more sales however which resulted in the band leaving 679 Recordings.
Freed from their deal, they formed their own independent label, Nut Records and in May 2008 released “This Is Not The World”. Personally speaking, this is probably my favorite Futureheads record (I may well be in a minority that thinks that though!). The band sound re-engerized as though leaving 679 was a weight off their back and they can now make the music they want to. Lead single “The Beginning of The Twist” states as much with the lines “It’s time to wake up/ It’s time to change/ Let’s get it started/I feel like there’s so much to rearrange”
Fourth LP “The Chaos” followed in April 2010. Listening now, it feels like a combination of the first three albums with the urgency of the “The Futureheads”, the radio-friendly choruses of “This is Not The World” with a bit of “News and Tributes” experimentation with their sound.
“Rant” was released in April 2012 and was complete change of direction as the album was totally a capella. Featuring Futureheads songs, traditional folk songs as well as cover versions of The Black Eyed Peas and Sparks, it was an eclectic mix of songs which demonstrated the vocal strength of the group that had been present since the first album.
Then it all went quiet. It emerged that Barry had suffered a breakdown and was later diagnosed as bipolar. In 2015, Dave announced that The Futureheads were no more. Barry and Jaff were teaching and Ross and Dave were working with new bands. Barry released a solo album in 2016 but it was thought that we would never get any new music from them.
Then, in January 2019, it was announced that they had reformed and were working on new music. A single “Jekyll” came out in June and the album “Powers” followed this week on August 30th. Listening to the new work, it sounds like they have never been away. The trademark sound is still there with the layered vocal harmonies and punchy guitar riffs and it fits seamlessly into their catalogue of great records.
Here’s an 11 track playlist to get you started. Let’s hope it isn’t 7 years before we hear from them again!