It's been a tough couple of years for The Futureheads. Following the mixed reception to 2006's ambitious News and Tributes, the British post-punk quartet was dropped by its label and briefly considered packing it in. Instead, they soldiered forward, forming their own label and releasing their third album, This Is Not the World. Over the phone from a tour stop in rainy Nottingham, genial singer/guitarist Ross Millard prepared to offer his take on some reviews of the new disc by promising not to be affected by "the red mist of rage":
The stakes seem higher, the nervousness quickened, the instruments slash and claw with seething desperation. It's all a rush of throbbing eighth notes and downstrokes, of gasps and eyes-shut plunges, a balls-to-the-wall collection of songs that sorts out nuanced arrangements with a blunt bludgeoning tool. (PopMatters)
That's pretty nice, actually. I like it! I definitely think the stakes are higher with this record. You know, the fact that we've set up our own label, and we've certainly had some tribulations, and I think you can hear that in the record. I wouldn't say it's the sound of a desperate band, but it is something of a revenge record. Not one that's . . . I don't think it's a bitter record. I think it's quite a joyous record, really. But I think it does play on that whole, "this is make or break." Going in, I think we all knew that this could have been our last record. You never know, but sometimes you need that pressure.
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There won't be a more energetic record released this year, and several of the songs are jerkily, stubbornly likable, but no new ground is covered. (BBC)
Yeah, I read that review, actually. I had a real problem with that, to be honest. I found that quite hurtful because it's quite . . . that specific quote that you've pulled out there is just a matter of opinion, but if I remember rightly, the article basically said our best work is behind us and we're not really a relevant band anymore. I would argue that we couldn't be more relevant, really. To say that "no new ground is covered," is, I think, a little harsh. But if you read every review and you get your bottom lip out about them all, then you're gonna be in the nuthouse pretty soon. I don't remember [AC/DC's] Back in Black being criticized for the same thing. Good tunes are good tunes — whether they're covering new or old ground is irrelevant to me.
While not without flaws, This Is Not the World is a fun, enthusiastic album that would make any punk band proud, full of the musical chaos, emotional commentary, and intense passion needed to deliver a lasting impression for years to come. (WNEW)
Nice! I mean, you know, everything that we set out to achieve with the record, it had to principally be fun, because we've had such a hard time that we had to enjoy this record. It's quite a sunshine record — maybe some things you wouldn't associate with The Futureheads — but I guess you hafta think about reinventing yourself with every record, and I'm very proud of the fact that we've got three albums that sound very different. Not many of our contemporaries or our peers can say that, really.