On their often charmless third full-length (their first since being dropped by their label), the Futureheads jilt subtlety in favor of balls-to-the-wall rawk. For listeners who initially found them appealing for their Wire-esque off-kilter approach to pop-punk, all the bludgeoning riffage on This Is Not the World might be a tad overwhelming. It’s too bad, because the knack the band once displayed for constructing precisely modulated rave-ups was a rare one, but this record is full of bull-in-a-china-shop posturing.
If the band leavened the aggression here with a few moments of heart like their last album’s killer “Skip to the End,” maybe all the loudness wouldn’t come across as so disingenuous. It’s also possible that these songs will work better re-sequenced and re-contextualized in the band’s live show. But these 12 tracks of surging anthemic gabba-hey are really hard to take in one sitting on record.
Since the Futureheads are a talented bunch of lads (who will hopefully live to fight again), some nuances do manage to leak through: “Broke Up the Time” features a timely and clever lyric calling us moderns out for reflexively assuming the best about the past, “Sale of the Century” features the most effectively surging riff on the album and an arrangement that emphasizes its power, and “The Beginning of the Twist” is a great album-opener, full of thrusting drama. Sadly, the rest of the record tends to blur together, an unmemorable mass of whoo-alright. Better luck next time.