Music Reviews
The Chaos

The Futureheads The Chaos

(Nul Records) Buy it from Insound Rating - 7/10

In 2008’s This is not the World, The Futureheads broke free from the shackles of big business by deciding to start their own label. Interestingly enough, it was the Sunderland band’s most accessible: rapid, unsyncopated time measures were replaced with more conventional rhythmic patterns that relied on pop hooks and repetitive choruses. You would think that making it on their own terms should’ve rewritten the Futureheads’ story completely, especially when the ties that bound them weren’t present anymore.

The fact that the Futureheads started to sound stale to the eyes of post-punk purists became an exercise in speculation. Now was the time for them to break out a twenty track, forty-minute extravaganza, full of ostentatious angularity and non conventional overlaps that would make the metric system look bad. However, what really came to constant question was if they had really lost their muse. Some might say that they were stuck on autopilot, or walking backwards to their own tune.

If anything, The Chaos completely ditches the pensive, more mature side the Futureheads had unraveled in News and Tributes. Now they sound as frenzied as ever, delivering some of the fastest, most self-assured songs recorded in their entire discography. A surprise? Not even in the least. What punk populists seem to forget is that post-punk is one of the most dynamic – not to mention misunderstood – genres in rock's brief history, especially because the only pure definition it has is that it arose in a very specific time frame. If they were emulating Drums and Wires and Entertainment at the start of their career, the latter half shares more parallels with All Mod Cons and A Different Kind of Tension. The Chaos is even more divisive, possessing a faster, more ferocious approach but with a willingness to think outside the box. It’s the perfect example of keeping melodic uniformity in a thoroughly simplistic shell, even as the schizophrenia kicks in from time to time.

In riotous title track The Chaos, frontman Barry Hyde sounds anti-establishment in the purest of sentiments: not giving a shit. In what will surely be be a solid concert opener, Hyde mutters the chorus: oh/the chaos/is everywhere but what it’s got to do with us, filled with abrasive, heavy guitars, a few hey! calls, and those irreplaceable chord shifts. There’s plenty where that came from. Stop the Noise follows the same spirit, slightly breaking 4/4 time signatures whilst conforming to a conventional approach of songwriting. Once the middle half kicks in, becomes evident that The Chaos is a hybrid of both The Futureheads’ immediacy and This is not the World’s polished production.

Since the Futureheads are fair believers in evolving and dis-evolving at an almost alarming rate, The Chaos switches between careless fun and executing the next logical progression. I Can Do That comes close to unclassifiable, mixing traditional three-chord play and exchanging razor-sharp riffs at the same time - and even soloing in the bridge section. It certainly places them on a league of their own. But for every triumph, there’s a slight misstep. There’s Heartbreak Song, an unabashed mall-punk hymn that doesn’t make much of an impression except for holding a cute chorus and maintaining their amiable vocal arrangements. Mind you, more than a mere mimic, it certainly blows many Blink-182 tunes out of the water. Another surprise is that the most imaginative tracks clock in at over three and a half minutes, proving that there’s hope in extending punk’s repertoire when songwriting is this strong. Dart in the Map’s slick, tight progressions serve as a fitting example, especially when the dueling guitars slowly build up in the song's intense outro, shooting up the sky and never looking back.

Thought it doesn’t make an impression at first glance, The Chaos crosses The Futureheads’ entire discography into a wholly satisfying package. Despite coming close to becoming an overly exhausting experience, there’s nary a deficiency of energy displayed, which is just about right when wanting to enjoy those brief, intermittent listening sessions. Even if The Chaos isn’t the razzle-dazzle of the Futureheads’ still promising narrative, at least they’ve never sucked.