The Futureheads (courtesy of myspace.com/thefutureheads)
The Futureheads were something of an enigma to me. I was overly familiar with the hype that swirled around them but after two or three casual listens to their debut album, I can’t say that I was committed to my own opinion. They quickly became lost in the sea of post-punk themed revivalists and drifted out of sight and out of mind. When their second album, News & Tributes appeared the press seemed disinterested. Just another sophomore release from would-be kings who dazzled while they had the spotlight but had since fallen into the chasm of media indifference. Going into the concert I hadn’t read any reviews, interviews or even heard a note off the second album. I could only sparsely remember my initial reaction to their debut and if pressed couldn’t have named a single band member, song or even album title. I couldn’t even tell you if they were from New York or Manchester.
Fortunately none of this mattered much seeing as soon as the band took the stage I was reminded that not everything post-punk has to reference Joy Division, Gang of Four or giggle along with a sly haphazard nod to Soft Cell or Vince Clark’s Depeche Mode days. Instead, The Futureheads evoke a bit of the early days of XTC and The Alarm before both bands polished up their images a touch too far and found success on college radio only to sputter out and lose all momentum when the slick production surpassed the passion. The Futureheads write noisy pop songs with a nod to unashamedly anathematic sing-a-longs that make gigs more communal events than presentational exhibits. The fact that they do it with a smile, occasional joke and frequent laughter only adds to their charisma. Throw in a outright brilliant Kate Bush cover and I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed being surprised by a band's performance since seeing She Wants Revenge open up for Bloc Party last year. You should have been there and I know you weren’t because, as typical of recent Salt Lake shows, the limited advertising along with a current swelling of apathy has left concerts that should have been brimming struggling just to be anemic.