False Heads have collected all the positive press, plaudits, and pull quotes a new band could ask for. In the four years since their formation, the London-based trio have earned praise from Iggy Pop, been invited to support The Libertines on tour, and played some of the biggest festivals in the U.K. calendar. Former Ramones manager and punk rock mastermind Danny Fields has even called them “one of the best live bands in the world.”
Short of the sweat, electricity, and energy of performance though, the band’s debut album fails to live up to the hype. This is indie-influenced britpop-flavored punk that occasionally promises greatness, but all-too-often feels typical, flat and familiar.
“Come at the King” is part Oasis-esque swagger, part American grit. “Fall Around” is great; it’s still punk, but a peppered melody, poise, and even a few pauses for breath. For all of the buzz-saw guitars and self-assured sneers elsewhere, most of these songs feel stilted.
With similar structures and cadences throughout, some even sound a little forced. There’s real weight behind the opening riff of “Rabbit Hole,” but it swiftly peters out. “Wrap Up” does a mean impression of Royal Blood, but it’s an impression at best.
It’s like being stuck in the studio has sapped the band of their power. That doesn’t mean that It’s All There But You’re Dreaming is bad; enough of the band’s bright spark shines through; it’s just not going to make the meteoric impact some folks have forecast.
Maybe this wasn’t supposed to shake up the scene. Maybe it was just meant to make a little noise. Maybe False Heads just needed more ammunition for their furious live shows. They certainly aren’t shy about touring, and in-your-face is almost certainly the best way to experience all of this. On record though, something is missing.
False Heads might be making waves, but crowning them the saviors of punk rock right now is only false hope.