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Futureheads go back in time with fast, post-punk showcase

The Futureheads? Don't they mean the Retroheads? For a relatively new band, the quartet's 20-something lads from Sunderland, England, seem to be keen students of their predecessors. From the snippet of Queen's ''Bohemian Rhapsody" they used to open their set to the guitar thrash of early Clash and licks swiped from Blondie's ''Parallel Lines," these guys know how to rock . . . like it's 1977 all over again.

But who's complaining? Certainly not the sold-out crowd that jammed the Paradise Rock Club Friday night as hipsters sang along and caromed off one another like pinballs. Yes, the Futureheads owe a great debt to the post-punk bands that came before them, but they also grind out some seriously taut, even catchy, rock songs that swerve all over the place before crashing abruptly at 2½ minutes.

It helps that the Futureheads look like every under-the-radar (for about six months, that is) band from New York City: nattily dressed in suits with red ties and hair that defies gravity thanks to pomade and AquaNet. Small wonder the band can hardly escape comparisons to Franz Ferdinand, with whom they have toured.

Songs such as the opening ''Le Garage" are the Futureheads' bread and butter: lean, loud, and fast. It's a good thing the crowd loved it, because the Futureheads stayed at the same tempo, volume, and energy the whole night, which admittedly left one longing for some semblance of dynamics.

Adhering closely to their rule of having no frontman, the musicians took turns on the mike, often leading the crowd in choruses of oohs and aahs. The Futureheads claim to eschew between-song banter, but they were surprisingly chatty, not that they said anything memorable. ''This song is about your first day of work," guitarist Ross Millard said before tearing into -- you guessed it -- ''First Day."

''Meantime" was a call to dance, even though the crowd already had been dancing all night. For their cover of Kate Bush's ''Hounds of Love," Millard and fellow guitarist Barry Hyde divided the crowd into two halves, and each side was instructed to sing a different part. It made for a sassy singalong, with the chorus resonating in your head long after the song had ended.

For an encore, the Futureheads resurrected ''A Picture of Dorian Gray," from British new-wavers Television Personalities. Not surprisingly, the Futureheads seemed right at home with the angular guitars and that oh-so-'70s-punk vibe.

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