The Futureheads

Area

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Combining the two U.K. singles the Futureheads released between their self-titled debut and their 2006 full-length News and Tributes, the Area EP is a transitional release in the best sense: you can hear the band evolving and trying new things with each track. While songs like "Area" and "Help Us Out" are a lot like the Futureheads' earlier work, with choppy rhythms and riffs so angular they're almost geometric, the song structures and arrangements are a little more sophisticated. "Skip to the End" is even more streamlined, with a spare, surprisingly swaggering attack that ends up sounding more powerful and self-assured than the wound-up, high-speed churning of their previous songs. Throughout the EP, the Futureheads find a good balance between the exciting, youthful rush they had at first and the inevitable maturation that happens when a band plays a lot and begins to refine its sound. Based on these songs, it's clear that the Futureheads have learned how to amp up everything that was good about their sound before -- the intricate harmonies, surging guitars, and the tension and release in their songwriting -- and move forward at the same time.

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