Album Review: The Futureheads - Rant

27 April 2012 | 4:41 pm | Fiona Dunne

"The band has managed to succeed in this grand experiment ... it’s a well developed, interesting and challenging album."

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The Futureheads' latest instalment, Rant, proves that you don't need to have any instruments, original material or even auto-tune to make a good record – just transform and rearrange a few favourites into a cappella style. The band has managed to succeed in this grand experiment, combining a mix of traditional sea shanties, four tracks from their back catalogue and some refreshing pop favourites to explore their own relationship with music, and each other. But the dynamic works well, with their unashamed vocal harmonies being executed with a surprising amount of skill and energy.

By putting their instruments down, The Futureheads have shown what else they're capable of and introduced a depth to songs we may not have taken notice of before. They've managed to convert a boring chart topper like The Black Eyed Peas' Meet Me Halfway into a moody and inspiring love song, filled with emotion and insight.

The traditional medieval Sumer Is Icumen In is energetic and evokes the sound it originally may have had in its time, as the band weave vocally around each other in the traditional multi-part polyphonic round arrangement, which is enough to make the listener dizzy, though delightedly so. The other standout arrangement is their cover of Beeswing – originally by Richard Thompson – which is bouncy and energetic and best demonstrates why the band enjoyed making the album, bringing a morose subject to a vigorous and hopeful peak that suits their thick North-Eastern English accents well. 

Disappointingly, the a cappella arrangements of their own songs, including Meantime, Robot and Thursday, feel flat in comparison, with Man Ray being the only interesting one that manages to capture, and keep, attention. Overall, it's a well developed, interesting and challenging album that capitalises well on this unique style.

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