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Futurebirds – Teamwork (Review)

Concerning Futurebirds, Teamwork makes the dream work.

The gang that is Futurebirds now has a decade’s worth of work under their belts. From Athens, GA, the band is renowned for their spacey “alt-country” sound. Truthfully, it can only be described as a perfect balance of the grit and the trip. Now they’re back after a five-year hiatus with their new studio record, Teamwork. I know what you’re thinking, “how the hell are they going to follow Hotel Parties?” Well I’ll tell you, anonymous valued reader.

Hotel Parties graced us with the instant classic, “Rodeo” and garnered the band some much needed attention. However, “Rodeo” was just the bait. Hotel Parties also gave us a look at Futurebirds unafraid to be brutally honest and vulnerable, yet charismatic. This was delivered with a studio polish that the band had never done before. Teamwork accomplishes much of the same but presents it with an extra coat of luster. The band plays to their strengths for a good chunk of the record with a few surprising moments here and there. It’s a familiar sound but it’s the times when the band dips into the unknown that the record really shines.   

In this case, the title tells all. Teamwork is a true product of hard work pushed out by a close-knit group of buddies. It’s undeniable that these guys have figured out how they want to sound, revolving singers, ranging tones, and all. Using that formula, Teamwork is a ride through the brightest highs and darkest lows with a dash of psychedelia. Single and opening track, “Crazy Boys”, is a testament to youthful passion with curling guitar licks and dreamlike vocals that give it a nostalgic feel. The ending of this track foreshadows some of what’s to come on the record with horns heard in the background and a warbling guitar echo. Another single, “Trippin’” feels much like the sequel to “Rodeo”, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The chunking on “Wear It Out” is extremely reminiscent of some of the best 70’s rock n’ roll. Also, the harmonizing saxophone and guitar licks are always appreciated. “My Broken Arm”, the country-punk track, has a chant chorus that is second to none and personal highlight, “Killing Ground”, oozes sunny retro rock boasting a beautiful melody.

It’s no one’s place to say which song is best on a record, but I can see why the guys chose “Waiting on a Call” for the closing track. The band use an electronic drum beat on this one and it ends up being one of the most interesting elements on the entire record. It adds a contrasting tone to the band’s usual traditionalist instrumentation. This kind of experimentation is a nice breakup for the sound. Like a light in the darkness, an unusually sharp guitar tone clashes and accents right in the middle of the track. Further, the dark outro themes heard on “Crazy Boys” make a return on this track, wrapping up the record nicely.

Futurebirds have crafted “their” sound, and Teamwork is another great example of such. However, the record is held back ever so slightly by the lack of evolution in that sound. A few tracks can’t help feeling like filler or something heard on one of their earlier works. The Birds flirt with some experimentation tonally, only to leave us wanting just a little bit more.