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For Future Fans of The Futureheads

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The Futureheads album I am most familiar with is the debut, eponymous album of 2004.  I chanced upon them on an online radio station and then sought them out.  The album became a favourite of mine, probably because it was that comfortable mix of familiar and new.  There was much of Andy Partridge and XTC in their sound, though clearly they brought that Futurehead sound along with them.  I never really understood that aspect of their sound until I heard 2012’s Rant.  

Ranting in A Cappella

Rant is an a cappella album featuring some of their previously released songs and a smattering of folk tunes and covers, and it is wonderfully informative for those of us who want to understand their sound. “Danger of the Water,” “The City is Here for You to Use,” and “Hounds of Love,” all from The Futureheads, are elucidated by the a cappella renderings—especially tunes such as Richard Thompson’s “Beeswing.”  This music that I had once assumed was informed and influenced by XTC and that ilk, was actually influenced by songs such as “Sumer Is Icumen In”—a 13th Century, Middle-English rota.  Add to that tunes such as “Old Dun Cow” from 1893 and the new versions of the Futureheads tunes, and you have a musicologist’s dream.

Rant is interesting for that reason and it is certainly well worth listening to at any time, but it may not be at your elbow for long—so specific is its niche.  The Futureheads though, that album, seems to have that era-spanning staying-power.  It’s wonderful to have a better grasp of the influences that have led to their current sound—and that’s the main accomplishment of Rant—but it is better to have albums such as The Chaos and News and Tributes for just regular old enjoyment by XTC fans and future fans of The Futureheads.


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