The Futureheads - Rant
If you've heard of The Futureheads' Rant at all, you'll have a vague idea of what to expect - and it is, to stick a cliche on it, nothing like you'll have heard from them before. It's not an entirely unexpected departure from the norm, of course - let's not forget Jupiter from past album The Chaos, which had its own share of acapella breakdowns. However, Rant is an entirely acapella album from the British artrockers and, if nothing else, you have to admire them for taking the risk. It might be self-indulgent, but it's also a lot of fun.
While the Black Eyed Peas and Kelis covers are undoubtedly enjoyable - and quite strong improvements over the original tracks - it's the more traditional folk songs where The Futureheads seem to shine. The vocal arrangements are complex and rich, and a key part of the entire album. If they didn't showcase their strengths on the vocals, the whole thing would be in danger of falling apart. Luckily, that doesn't happen.
It would have been interesting to hear some original songs in the acapella style and the mix of covers does lend the album a somewhat gimmick-y feel - in addition to the previously mentioned pop songs and folk covers, there's also one or two previous Futureheads tracks on there - but very few are likely to have listened to such gems as The Old Dun Cow before, lending not only the sense of discovery that comes with finding a new favourite song, but the knowledge that the originals all remain out there to still be enjoyed.
The cover of Sparks' The Number One Song In Heaven is by far and away the favourite. It's an interesting listen and the band give it the justice it deserves - the covers are particularly strong because they're not remakes, but a reimagining. The Futureheads take everything good about a song and use their own voices to weave it into something different.
Whether into acapella or not, it's definitely worth giving the album a chance - and the same goes for whether or not you're a Futureheads fan. It's not going to debut at number one or anything so fantastic, of course, but it's a solid cult classic and one not to be missed.