British quartet the Futureheads plan to break out of the angular-rock box this summer when they release the follow-up to their 2004 self-titled debut.
"A lot of the songs are much slower and grander," guitarist and co-songwriter Ross Millard says from his home in Newcastle, England, while on a break from mixing the group's as-yet-untitled second album. "I don't think anyone will be able to use the words 'agitated,' 'angular' or 'quirky' anymore. There's a lot more meat on the bones, more emotions in the songs. The songs carry enough weight or resonance to mean something more than just a jumping-around-on-the-dance-floor kind of thing."
Millard and Futureheads' frontman Barry Hyde spent the fall writing independently before resuming rehearsals with the rest of the ensemble in December. The group then trekked to a Scarborough, England, farmhouse to record with producer Ben Hillier (Depeche Mode, Blur), where they wrote six of the fourteen tracks. Among the new compositions are the tentatively titled "Worry," "Return of the Berserker" and "Favors for Favors."
One track in particular, a Millard composition currently going by the name "Munich," was inspired by the guitarist's devotion to British soccer team Manchester United. "It's about a famous sporting disaster — an air crash, the Munich air disaster," Millard says referring to the February 6, 1958, incident that left twenty-one dead — seven of which were players — who became known as Busby's Babes. "We wanted to make the songs about things that were quite specific, or things people could make their own assumptions on that weren't too oblique or non-descript."
The band's last stint on the road seems to have inspired the change in direction. So when the Futureheads head back stateside this summer, does this mean they'll be spewing out a host of post-modern power ballads?
"Kind of, yeah. Get the lighters out," Millard says with a laugh. "We had to think about the fact that we'll be touring these songs for eighteen months. Having twenty songs in a set list where it's constantly the same kind of energy? There's no room to breathe in that. You don't want to be thrashing yourself around playing two-minute songs on stage. I think the second album is going to make the live show a lot more dynamic and interesting."