The Futureheads return from 9-year hiatus with forceful new album ‘Powers’

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Grade: 4.0/5.0

New wave post-punk icons the Futureheads are back after a nine-year musical hiatus. After initially calling it quits in 2015, the UK group’s angular sounds have returned just in time to end your summer with some alternative oomf. Powers, the band’s new record, released Friday as a solid addition to the Futureheads’ ever-expanding repertoire.

The Futureheads hit it off in England around the late 2000s — a time when the Fratellis’ “Chelsea Dagger” was all the rage and everyone knew who Franz Ferdinand was. Powers pulls influence from that time of pop-goes-post-punk, reaching to fuse influences from both periods.

“Jeykll,” the first song on the album, is reminiscent of the punk bands that emerged throughout the UK in the 1970s. The chaotic speed and intensity of the vocals adds a modern flair, but listeners can’t help but compare the voice of lead singer Barry Hyde to an early ‘80s Joe Strummer. Hyde is an ironic fit for the song, as the classic novella “The Strange Case of Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde” is a tale of the contrast between good and evil — a theme prominent in the lyrics of the song.

In some ways, the sound from the Futureheads parallels the comeback of many other 2000s bands such as Blink-182. Pop influences show through post-punk veins on “Good Night Out” and “Animus.” Popular chord progressions and singable lyrics make for a more familiar listening experience for fans of current bands like Bastille and the Kooks. 

But the energy on songs like “Across the Border” brings a new enthusiasm to the band’s sound, as if a ‘70s punk revival is just around the corner. “Electric Shock” similarly showcases a mastery — even if the concept and lyrics of the song may be a little campy — when it comes to the mixing of sounds and implementation of more dynamic vocals after the two-minute mark.

“Stranger in a New Town” appeals to a more mature audience, which is a euphemistic way of saying it’s a dad rock song. But who doesn’t love a good dad rock jam every once in a while? The power drive of the instrumentals and arena rock influences make this song a grand ol’ time; the real drama is saved for the latter half of the album.

This theatricality begins with the song “Listen, Little Man!” Sounding as if it was written for the soundtrack of a rock ’n’ roll stage production, startling arrangements and exaggerated questions of “When did we all become so small?” pepper the track. “Headcase” continues this trailing drama, as it is just under three minutes of disorder in a classic punk fashion.

Powers is a refreshing dive into the anarchy that is nostalgia-inducing British pop-punk. Listen to enough of the Futureheads, as the band says, “And you can be a headcase, too.”

Skylar De Paul covers music. Contact her at [email protected]. Tweet her at @skylardepaul.