The Futureheads Reunite and Release Powers After Hiatus

The Futureheads Photo by Paul Alexander Knox

At the end of August, U.K. group The Futureheads released their sixth album, Powers. This album comes out nearly seven years after their last album, Rant, and the reason it took so long was because vocalist and guitarist, Barry Hyde, decided to step away to work on his mental health. The rest of the band, including vocalist and guitarist Ross Millard, vocalist and bassist David ‘Jaff’ Craig, and vocalist and drummer Dave Hyde, were sad about the hiatus, especially the circumstances behind it. But they understood, and if anything, the break had a very positive effect and lent a hand in their new music.

“The album title was more to do with the band reforming and finding new strength as a team of friends and mutually respectful creative gang,” the band mentions. “In all honesty, it feels great to be back after nearly seven years of Futureheads incubation. In the seven years that we weren’t active, we have all grown as people and as musicians.”

The Futureheads Powers
Powers artwork
Photo courtesy of Nul Records

The album features 12 tracks, three of which have become singles: “Jekyll,” “Listen, Little Man!,” and “Good Night Out.” They’ve been working on the album since 2017, which was also when they reunited.

What was the band feeling when creating this new music? The band explains, “We have really pushed ourselves to create unique songs for this album, a collection of contrasting works that fit together in a complimentary way. Some of the musical ideas are easily our most sophisticated, and structurally, there is some experimentation going on. It was really crucial for us that we returned with a new album full of new ideas and new energy. The album, of course, sounds like an album by The Futureheads, but it is in no way a nostalgia trip; we are pushing forward. It would be an understatement to say that we feel immensely proud of the new record and all we and our team have done to make it happen.”

The whole album gives off Ramones vibes. Or, more currently, if you’re a fan of Frank Iero, you will love this group. Their sound is this edgy, angsty rock, with vocalist Barry Hyde giving this defying energy that a lead singer should have (or in this case, one of the lead singers since it switches off depending on the song). And even though the band says the album isn’t a nostalgia trip, as a listener, the tempos to a lot of these songs were very nostalgic for me, reminding me a lot of the 80s and with two of the band’s music videos giving that old-time feel.

The latest single, “Good Night Out,” brings the summer love in their music video. It fits as it has this lighter tempo compared to the other songs and singles, so the bright colors make it seem like a happier song. But there’s also this underlying vibe that things aren’t perfect, and maybe even more sinister with the imagery shown, while still using the bright colors. I think this is very synonymous with the song’s meaning; it has this uplifting tempo, but the lyrics reflect something much deeper at certain parts.

“To some degree, music videos have had their day. The MTV age is over and unless you are making massive pop music, there is no point making elaborate videos,” the band comments, in regards to this and their other recent music videos’ simplicity.

The track “Animus” is very representative of the Ramones-type vocals. Perhaps it’s due to the way Barry enunciates as he sings. Song “Across the Boarder” has gang vocals that are very angsty in Ramones fashion as well.

Tracks from the album such as “Electric Shock” bring this 80s nostalgia that belongs on an episode of “Stranger Things.” With a retro techno sound, this song could totally play in the background as the kids run from the Demogorgon.

Likewise, their single, “Listen, Little Man!” has an edgy retro vibe, with the music video showcasing clips of different people in society in the 40s and 50s. The song has a demanding tone that would also be perfect for a villainous or even just a bad-boy type of scene. The title of the song, the band mentions, comes from a book by Wilhelm Reich, an Austrian doctor of medicine and a psychoanalyst. The video kind of pays ode to that with it showing images of the beginning of organisms, and then the various ages of people in society and how they’re interacting.

“Headcase,” almost right off the bat, gave me My Chemical Romance “I’m Not Okay” vibes, which is a bit ironic considering that their sound is similar to the band’s rhythm guitarist, Frank Iero’s, new band’s music. The beat about 40 seconds into “Headcase” picks up like the beginning of “I’m Not Okay,” and not to mention, the vocals produced on The Futureheads’s song are very formidable like Gerard Way’s vocals on the My Chemical Romance song.

The beginning of “Don’t Look Now,” is quite a change from its previous tracks, in the fact that the vocals get deeper on this track. For this reason and for the tempo of the song, something about it reminds me of blink-182 and Mark Hoppus’s vocals, as they get more mellow as opposed to angsty like in the other songs. Kind of like how there’s the switch between Hoppus and DeLonge on blink-182’s early albums; this song offers that in this specific track, with Hoppus-like vocals as opposed to higher-pitched DeLonge’s with the backing group vocals to support it.

“Mortals” again brings back the angsty, Joey-Ramone type vocals, but something very interesting about this concluding track is the bridge over halfway through. The tempo immediately made me think of Styx and their song “Mr. Roberto,” which definitely fits in with the album’s nostalgic sound. The vocals also lean toward a Freddy-Mercury sound, that briefly edges away from the angsty vocals on most of the album.

The Futureheads
The Futureheads
Photo by Paul Alexander Knox

Overall, the album is a solid release from the group after the hiatus. Lead singer Barry has been working on himself, and has this to say in regards to mental health:

“One of the issues with mental illness is that it’s, for the most part, invisible and internal. Therefore it is easy to hide, unlike, for example, a broken leg,” he says. “When I eventually opened up about my inner world, it was like opening the flood gates, suddenly people became concerned. After a while, I felt that I was a broken record, stuck in a rut. I barely survived that period in my life. It seems that artistic people have a tendency to sensitivity and introspection, it is the ‘inner-world’ in which we really do our creating. I see mental illness as a necessary part of life now, it is that attitude that ultimately allowed me to grow as a person. My advice is to accept and seek help. The Wim Hof Method is worth looking at.”

For now, the group is focusing on playing shows in the U.K., but they would love to play in the U.S. again soon. You can check out their upcoming show dates on their website. They also plan to release more music videos for Powers, and say to keep an eye out. For now, you can check out one of their music videos above or view them on their YouTube page.

You can check out their latest album, Powers, on Spotify, or find another streaming platform here. If you’re headed to see The Futureheads live, check out the band’s recommended road trip playlist below.

Roadtrip Playlist The Futureheads
Infographic by Jenna Kauffman

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