The Futureheads’ previous album This Is Not the World left the band at an impasse -- with neither News & Tributes’ grand scale nor The Futureheads’ quirky focus, it often felt dangerously close to ordinary. At first, The Chaos seems to follow suit, offering a similar mix of glossy, ‘80s-tinged rockers (the title track, “Sun Goes Down”) and clever-yet-straightforward radio songs like “Struck Dumb” and “Heartbeat Song,” both of which edge the band closer to the mainstream. But just when it feels like the album is going to be quintessentially “solid”, The Chaos gets interesting. The Futureheads’ quirks and ambitions reassert themselves in ever stranger and, er, more ambitious ways. “Stop the Noise”’s call-and-response vocals and “The Connector”’s ultra-angular riffs could have appeared on The Futureheads, while “The Baron” and “This Is the Life” are jammed full of busy guitars and lyrics like “it’s great to see a smile on your miserable face,” and question expectations playfully like the band’s best songs do. Even less successful experiments such as the earnest “Dart at the Map” and the theatrical, largely six-minute a cappella final track, “Jupiter,” have a passion missing from some of the album’s more workmanlike tracks. Yet, as The Chaos teeters between slick professionalism and rampant expression, it still sounds like the Futureheads are having more fun here than they have in quite some time.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares