Record Review - 1 November 04 2004

Like summer tourmates Franz Ferdinand, the Futureheads play with a spiky, post-punk bounce that draws from antecedents Gang of Four, the Jam and XTC. Gang of Four’s Andy Gill produced the album, helping to blend the Sunderland quartet’s perky dance-punk attack with XTC’s disjunctive pop sway and the Jam’s anthemic declarations. The songs are short and sweet, with only two of the 15 breaking the three-minute mark. While their angular guitar and jumpy rhythms echo Ferdinand, there’s a stronger pop aesthetic at work, with an accent on harmonies and singsong melodies. Rambunctious energy carries the tracks, which boast hardly a misstep across the entire album. Highlights include “Decent Days and Nights,” which recalls former Jam frontman Paul Weller’s “In the City;” the alternately dreamy and contrapuntal “Alms,” with its repeating rounds-styled vocals; and the percolating cover of Kate Bush’s “Hounds of Love,” which in the Futureheads’ hands becomes a thundering, ascendant pop song. Though liberally borrowing from ’80s U.K. icons, the Futureheads also bring a wonderful pop sensibility to bear, with great vocal parts and harmonies that distinguish them from the growing legion of retro-minded post-punks.

-- Chris ParkerThe Futureheads play the Earl Mon., Nov. 8, 9 p.m. $7.