When London rockers, False Heads (comprised of Luke Griffiths (Vocals/Guitar), Jake Elliott (Bass) and Barney Nash (Drums/Vocals)) became the 100th band to be featured in our Brits in Hot Weather feature, things were looking very rosy indeed. With an extensive tour in the offing, including their SXSW debut, plus some big promo opportunities, spring was going to see the band go stellar. Cut to just a few weeks later and, we find ourselves amid a pandemic that threatens to rip the heart and soul out of the music industry, and, for False Heads, it has been nothing short of devastating.
However, let that not detract from the fact that the band’s debut album, It’s All There But You’re Dreaming is comfortably one of the best British rock albums of the year. Throughout the band serve up a platter of jagged licks, thumping drums and rumbling basslines on an album that hits with the force of an adrenaline shot plunged straight through the ribcage into an already pounding heart.
“Whatever You Please” opens the album with a deceptively soothing, cleanly strummed guitar framing Griffiths’s lullaby-like croon. It steadily becomes more fractious as guitars whir and fray with Griffiths barked vocals embedding themselves like spit covered balls of barbed wire. Early single, “Fall Around”, already sounds like a defining anthem for the band. At its heart, it’s a joyfully loud, scuffed rock song, but scratch the surface and you can see the shiny pop songcraft, winking underneath. “Ink” opens with a window-rattling bass line before a shellacking of rattling drums and pointed riffs tear gaping holes in the thick curtain of noise. It all leads to the kind of chorus that leaves a lasting impression like a dark, swelling stain on a worn carpet.
The understandably furious, “Twenty Nothing” could start a mosh pit in an empty room. Capturing the band’s ability to wrestle with noise and bend it to their own will, it shifts from an understated verse before launching into a snarling chorus that takes aim at media lies and manipulation. “Slew” is equally as angry. Coming out swinging with a thick, punchy riff which Griffiths wields like a sword as he skewers internet trolls. It ends with a blazing, foundation-disturbing outro that just stops short of absolute mayhem.
The beautifully, low key, “Comfort Consumption”, offers a little calm after the storm. Over cleanly strummed, early 1990s guitar, it finds Griffith’s voice at his most vulnerable as he guides the song to a soaring and achingly personal chorus. In contrast, “Come at the King” finds him in a combative mood, ready to take on all comers like a Spartan standing in front of hordes of baying Persians.
“Help Yourself” is pure grunge power with the band channeling the ghost of Cobain in all his ragged yet melodic glory. Nods to In Utero continue on “Steady on Your Knees” but seen through the prism of 1990s British indie — part force of nature, part rallying cry for those who need it most. The thrillingly brash “Slease” comes with a riff so dirty it would probably be wise to use antibacterial soap after listening.
The thunderous “Wrap Up” finds all instruments seemingly locked in a contest to see which can combust first. It ends with the, sadly, all too apposite “I had plans, but they all fell through” that now takes on new meaning in light of the chaos caused that bloody virus. That said, it’s important to remember what it was written as — a steadfast, determined call to carry on no matter what life throws at you. With a shuddering juggernaut of a riff scything through a whirlwind of thunderous drums, the band launch into the final song “Rabbit Hole”. It’s a hulking, riff-monster that sits somewhere between the riffiest parts of Muse and the direct, barely controlled rage of Slaves.
It’s All There But You’re Dreaming is the sound of a modern rock band expertly knitting chaos, beauty, and noise together. For every roaring, scuzzy riff, there’s a melodic counterpoint that keeps the songs grounded and keeps them rattling around the subconscious. Whatever happens, this is an album of songs that deserves a wider audience. One that may have to wait for a little to see these songs shake the rafters live, but boy will it be worth the wait.