The Futureheads - Rant

by Miz DeShannon Rating:5 Release Date:2012-04-02

The Futureheads have always been a band known for their vocal harmonies, mixed among their slightly raucous, punk-tinged indie songs. Rant, however, is something totally different, in that it is purely a cappella, no edgy guitar parts, just vocal arrangements and, well, rants.

The 12 songs on the album are a selection of other people's compositions ('Meet Me Halfway' - The Black Eyed Peas, 'Heaven' - Sparks, for instance), and sea shanties from Smithsonian Institute archive recordings (old English round 'Sumer is Icumen In'), which were pawed over for the best part of a year by the band. Despite there having been a lot of effort put into producing the album, listening as a whole really gets a bit much.

This is unquestionably a concept album, but not your usual sort. It's doubtful that the band will be leaving behind their instruments and taking to the stage in this manner for any more than the promotional tour. Some of the tracks may make their way into a regular live set, but that's been a part of the Futureheads' vibe for years.

The song which kicked the project off, Kelis' 'Acapella', which was done for a 2010 Radio 1 Live Lounge session just sounds like a Flying Pickets track. It's a contrast to the preceeding track 'The Old Dun Cow', a traditional folk song, but the song choice is actually irrelevant - they all now have the same feel to them, any idea of musical genre and intricacy has been left aside and replaced with hums, wails and yelps. It isn't even album where one can discuss it track by track, other than to give some historical knowledge to the choices made.

Ambitious maybe, exceptionally well executed, but audibly the Futureheads don't seem to really have such beautiful voices that this album sounds good. Four-way harmonies intermingled with punky guitar riffs and drum rolls maybe, but stand-alone, they sound like something you'd find at a Northumberland country fair. Barry Hyde (lead vocals) says that "a Futureheads fan who doesn't get Rant is not a Futureheads fan". Well, I get it, but it just doesn't lay easy on the ears Barry, sorry.

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