Believe it or not, The Futureheads have been around for almost a decade.Â Thatâ€™s long enough to release four critically acclaimed albums and develop one of the most recognisable sounds in the British music scene.
Itâ€™s worth remembering that this endurance has also seen its fair share of strife.Â In fact, the bandâ€™s anger and distrust with the music industry led them to set up their own independent record label in 2007.Â Gaining a reputation as a group that doesnâ€™t hold back any punches when it comes to speaking its mind, the title of the new album comes as no surprise.
The hotly anticipated Rant is sung entirely a cappella, that is without any instrumentation- just the heavily-accented vocal harmonies of a group previously known for its Rock-guitar riffs and post-Punk tendencies.Â While getting a chance to realise the breadth and scope of the Sunderland foursomeâ€™s vocal competencies, this album also gives us a chance to come to terms with their irrepressible ambition.Â On first listen, itâ€™s clear that Rant is unlike anything that has come out of the British music scene in a very long time.
Itâ€™s fair to say that listening to the album is like venturing on a weird and wonderful journey, and once you get used to the a cappella idea, itâ€™s hard not to be captivated.Â The first song is a cover of one of their earlier singles, Meantime.Â Colourful and textured, it also breaks us in gradually for whatâ€™s in store later in the album – most notably their bizarre and surreal versions of The Black Eyed Peasâ€™ Meet Me Halfway and Kelisâ€™s Disco hit Acapella.
Whether youâ€™re excited, bemused, or just think your brains are deceiving you, by the time you reach their take on an interesting selection of traditional English Folk chants â€“ Sumer Is Icumen In, The Keeper and The Old Dun Cow, youâ€™ll realise that there really is no turning back.Â Like many English Folk tales, their lyrics are, at times, dark and disturbing, but nonetheless mesmerising.Â Unlike the Laura Marling-cum-Mumford and Sons’ Folk revival weâ€™re familiar with, The Futureheads pay homage to (rather than move on from) the much under-appreciated genre.
Feeling as if youâ€™ve journeyed through an enchanted fairy-filled forest, the climax of the album is undoubtedly their cover of the 70sâ€™ Pop classic The No. 1 Song in Heaven.Â How they managed to retain the sparkly Disco sound of the original, without a synthesiser or mixing deck is beyond me.Â The only thing that I was certain of was that I didnâ€™t want the journey to end.
In an industry of over-production, Rant demonstrates a refreshing and inspiring refusal to conform.Â The album is organic, but also technically flawless and innovative.Â While I donâ€™t think this signals a new direction for the band, theyâ€™ve taken the opportunity to show off their breadth of talent.Â Headstrong, stubborn, or just downright audacious, theyâ€™ve certainly got our attention.