On Furnace St.'s third LP, frontman Adam Boose's knuckles bleed almost as much as his heart. "You can only sit still for so long," Boose sings on "Sunday Driver," and true to his word, Boose comes out swinging here as never before. The song's skittering electronics are buoyed by a ribald, funky bass interlude, making it emblematic of a disc that adds serious torque to Furnace St.'s once melancholic, '80s-leaning synth pop.
Much of this added might comes from Boose's amped-up guitar and the addition of bass player Brian D. Taylor. Album-opener "Cabeza" sets the tone with strapping bass, clangorous sheaths of feedback, and manic, beeping electronics that sound like R2-D2 having an orgasm. Most of the album is just as vehement: "Brainiac" intermingles touches of raw-metal riffing with a slinky, prowling beat; the bristling "Shanghai" layers combative, distorted bass over hirsute guitars; and "Sludgery" slams anthemic, chest-pounding rhythms into whirring electronics that hiss like a rattler. Mostly absent are the chirping keys and new-wave underpinnings that characterized previous Furnace St. albums; in their place are ironbound beats, growling synth, and quarrelsome programming, resulting in a much more dynamic sound than anything the band has turned in thus far.
At times, this works against Furnace St. Headmusic is overlong, and some of the songs are too busy for their own good, cramming a deluge of disparate ideas into a single cut, on an album that feels as if it could easily have been a double-disc set. But what Headmusic lacks in brevity, it makes up for in vigor.