This Is Not the World will no doubt satisfy notoriously hardline Futureheads fans, but...
Jaime Gill 2008
An intriguing recent musical trend has seen rock bands seeking out pure pop producers to spruce up their sound. Fall Out Boy's collaboration with Babyface paid dividends, while Franz Ferdinand flirted with Girls Aloud's Xenomania and Kaiser Chiefs have named Mark Ronson as helmsman on their third album. What a shame it didn't occur to The Futureheads who – on the evidence of This Is Not The World - need it more than any of them.
It's not that the Futureheads' third album is in any way bad. There won’t be a more energetic record released this year, and several of the songs are jerkily, stubbornly likeable, but no new ground is covered. It begins boldly, with the brash, Stranglers-aping, The Beginning of the Twist, one of the few tunes here to boast a truly memorable tune, as well as whiplash drums and driven bass. Other tracks, like Broke Up the Time, revisit the choppy guitars and revved harmonies of their debut, but fall victim to the law of diminishing returns.
There are highlights. Radio Heart is an obvious single, with its crunchy Jam-like guitar line and stickily addictive chorus, though clunky lyrics like "I'm a man who sits at a desk so I guess I've got nothing to lose with this request/ I want a girl who doesn’t like to dress to impress" suggest Barry Hyde picked a drunken fight with a rhyming dictionary and lost. The band's formidable tightness - evident at their terrific live shows - is showcased on both the jet-propelled, FM-friendly title track, and the metallic Sale of the Century.
But Hard to Bear is stodgy and uninspiring fare, akin to eating a full white loaf in one sitting. This Is Not the World will no doubt satisfy notoriously hardline Futureheads fans, but may struggle to recruit more.