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It's Prog Jim: The Futureheads

The Futureheads (679 Recordings/Warners, 2004)

The energised clatter and urgent post-punk thrust of The Futureheads’ debut collection may not be an obvious contender for a prog album in disguise, but scratch beneath the surface and here was a band intent on stretching angular guitar rock into new shapes.

The signs were there early on: prior to forming the Sunderland quartet, frontman Barry Hyde played in a band with Peter and David Brewis of Field Music, who adhered to a manifesto that they pinned to their wardrobe door. It included such rules as: “no cymbals”, “everyone singing, all the time” and “drink lots of coffee”. Indeed it was Hyde’s dad’s record collection that partly influenced the emerging prog tones of the Brewis brothers, with Peter playing drums for The Futureheads early on, and recently revealing to Prog that Barry Hyde carried an XTC album with him at all times.

It’s the drive, economy, polyphonic vocal parts and time shifts that make The Futureheads a progressive record. From the barking stomp of opener to Le Garage through the rhythmic swing of Decent Days And Nights to the metronome-gone-haywire mayhem of Trying Not To Think About Time and onto the high-tensile, art-punk brilliance of closer Man Ray, this is an album that has been thought out. Contrived rather than conceived in the moment. And it’s all the better for it.

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