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October 20th, 2004 Matt Wright, Corban Lester | Album Reviews
 

The Futureheads / Rendezvous

     
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The Futureheads

The Futureheads

The Futureheads

(Sire)

The Futureheads bow down to the post-punk/New Wave totem, and Matt Wright gives them a little kick in the ass.

Midway through "Meantime," the fifth track off the Futureheads' self-titled debut album, a question is posed: "You are a decent person/ And you have a function/ Why do we say hello?" It's a subtle hook, a quick moment of introspection to counter the catchy guitar riffs and insistent dance beats that make up the rest of the song. The Futureheads play great pop music, easy to dance to and fun to sing along with, despite the obscure lyrics and funny North England accents. Overall, the album's sound is similarly smart and propulsive, combining post-punk and New Wave influences like XTC and Gang of Four with a driving punk energy reminiscent of Fugazi. Which brings us back to the question: The Futureheads are a decent band, and they certainly have a function, but why do they say hello? With a million new releases coming out each week, and 50-plus years of rock history behind us, are they really bringing anything new to the table? Maybe, but not much. Because while this particular blend of record-geek signifiers has yet to be assembled in exactly this way, the fact remains that these are old sounds, tried and true.

The Futureheads are clearly not alone in this nostalgic approach to new music, as evidenced by the Rapture and their current tourmates Franz Ferdinand. But the trend is getting old. Hopefully, the Futureheads' next album will find them directing their obvious talents toward a more progressive sound. 'Til then, their answer on "Meantime" will suffice: "It's just a fashion that we follow that we should be forgetting/ But then you do it again/ You do the same again." (Matt Wright)

Luna

Rendezvous

(Jet Set Records)

Luna cruises respectfully into the gloom-pop sunset, its head held high.

Rendezvous is to be Luna's last release, the band members having recently announced their impending retirement. Sporting an M.F.A. in communicating fascination, mild irritation, apathy and despondency, Luna now contends for whatever trophy goes to those excellent at that most challenging of social rituals: the goodbye. This release (the band's seventh full-length) offers fans a bittersweet lozenge of closure. Luna has aged, but gracefully so, relying on a substantial repertoire of timeless-but-stylish post-college guitar pop songs, accented by the disaffected coffee-shop drawl that is Dean Wareham's mumble-song.

The band's works have been of consistently high quality, and Rendezvous is no exception, containing some of its best work to date. The first track, "Malibu Love Nest," opens the album on a catchy note but is weighed down by a midtempo, adult-oriented presentation with a tad too much polish; it strolls along in a way that prepares the listener for the sort of late-career mediocre run-through that is the hallmark of sunset-riding legends. Fortunately, the party starts by song three with happy surprises popping up, including "Speedbumps," a song too good to promote to commercial radio. A top-down, avenue-cruising, mirrorshaded fist-pumper that's worth the price of the whole album, this is the song you'll absentmindedly hum to yourself for the next week. Rendezvous isn't a trailblazer, but it is wonderful for reminding the jaded how good gloomy pop can feel. (Corban Lester)


The Futureheads will be released Tuesday, Oct. 26.

Rendezvous will be released Tuesday, Oct. 26.

 
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