In 2000, Britain’s Futureheads met while teaching music to the underprivileged in the industrial city of Sunderland. A few years later, while everyone was up in Franz Ferdinand’s manorexic steez, they broke out with a self-titled debut of somewhat forgettable new-wave postpunk. It’s surprising, then, that their latest one-ups the competition with punk that’s theatrical and unrefined, melodic but treacle-free. News and Tributes, as its title suggests, grapples with both progress and history, not to mention the big sellout conundrum: Can four scrappy lads reconcile staying true to their school, as it were, while harboring a jones to rock Wembley Stadium? “Cope” approaches the polished grandeur of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” with sneering choirboy harmonies, and though Barry Hyde’s lyrics revel in a bookish wit that’d get him jumped in his ‘hood, his vocal timbre conveys the impulsive sedition of pure punk. On the insanely catchy “Worry About It Later,” he barks, “Never to return/Because one turn is enough.” Then, in an old-school U2 moment, triumphant power chords and tambourine kick in as the drums go double-time. The ‘Heads shout with glee about how they couldn’t “resist the risk”—if the risk is this record, sometimes gambles reap big rewards.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 6, 2006