Album Review: The Futureheads

11 April 2012 | 2:56 pm | Chris Yates

A brave and bold venture, Rant is an unexpected triumph.

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The Futureheads came to prominence at a time in the early-2000s when everyone was rediscovering Gang Of Four and feverish disco. Yet whilst the quartet have proven they were above such trite pigeonholing, their progress has gone relatively unnoticed in Australia. Nevertheless, creating an entirely a capella album as your fifth stint in the long form is something of a strange play. Rant has no new material, instead offering reworked Futureheads standards alongside covers as disparate as Sparks, 13th century traditional folk standards… and Black Eyed Peas. Yet one of the bands' ultimate strengths has been their harmonies, and it is to their eternal credit that Rant elevates beyond being merely a stunt piece and becomes something worthy, not just of repeat listens, but as an album shirking novelty status and claiming its place alongside the highs of their career thus far.

Meet Me Half Way is the perfect example of how Rant works. The backing vocals swing like a pendulum, a warped barbershop vignette that backs up Barry Hyde's iconic voice as it jovially echoes, “I want you so badly/it's my only wish”. This should be an abomination, yet is more than just a fun misnomer – it gains credence. The skeletal nature of voices as sole instruments could be scary – tapping shoes and handclaps are clearly evident in Beeswing – but the confidence and innate interplay here blows such apprehensions out of the water. Elsewhere, traditional numbers like Sumer Is Icumen In and the rambunctious alcoholic rally-cry The Old Dun Cow soar, their incongruities overshadowed by the ingenuity of the structure and the strength of the melodies.

A brave and bold venture, Rant is an unexpected triumph.