Monday, December 18, 2006

Sweeping The Nation Albums Of 2006: Number 14

Inside it opens out like broadsheet print. Perhaps the label felt sleeve art costcutting was required

679 Recordings don't seem to agree, but the key to News And Tributes is to get over the initial culture shock. The Futureheads might have been our favourite album of 2004, a stop-start, heavily angular, always self-aware jerky riff monster that put them head and shoulders above their post-punk peers and followers. Even then, though, there were subtleties, tempo shifts and curveballs (Danger Of The Water) that were written off as just there for variation. Hiring Ben Hillier for the second album proved not so much a continuation or evolution as such but a gradual realisation that what this second album represents is a stretching out of what they can do, adding space and light while never giving up on the core promises of jagged edge guitars, indie disco bass and four part cascading harmonies. It's still a selection of songs that have somewhere to go fast if they can just escape from this whirlwind of piecemeal guitars first, just one that finds it has time to stop and admire the scenery first. And it still kicks the arse off Hot Club De Paris.

Yes/No opens with suggestions of band heroes Shellac, Albini guitars making more overt appearances especially on all-out Big Blackisms of Return Of The Bezerker, and the more melodic end of their post-hardcore bretheren while there are in patches still random harmonics and fuzzy, visceral stop-start riffs, but even there there's clearly not the need to fit as much into as little audio space as possible, but as we go on it seems that if they're still post-punks, then it's that of 1981 Jam, pre-pastoral XTC or a less synthy mid-80s Wire, a very off kilter English version of new wave picking away at self-imposed genre boundaries, and on reflection it might actually be less commercial than their opening shot. When they do calm down results are less secure but the acoustic opening and lament over Psychedelic Furs chug of Burnt and Back To The Sea, which literally sounds like Meantime at three quarter speed, prove they can handle dynamic shifts as much as time shifts. This may in time become regarded as their transitional album, but they've grown older, reconsidered and found a heart and soul of sorts, and what their back to indie selves do now is the most fascinating facet of all.

WATCH ON: Skip To The End acoustic; it's their American label's EPK!
READ ON: Uncut talk to Barry about writing, recording, Bangkok and the Threads influence

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