The original Texan trio have returned with style. Some nine years after the release of their previous record Mescalero, ZZ Top have produced one of their most consistent efforts in recent memory. With Rick Rubin behind the console for La Futura, Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and (the beardless) Frank Beard have managed to put together a collection of ten tracks that conjure a feeling of warmth, of Texas and the melting pot of cultures that have defined their home state.
Lead single I Gotsta Get Paid opens La Futura in style, a reworking of the classic Hip Hop track 25 Lighters by Lil' Keke. Where once the track had manufactured drums and keyboard lines, Top have made it dusty and as soulful as anything from their extensive back catalogue. Gibbons' growling vocals and enviable guitar work provide the focal point for second track Chartreuse, reworking the classic riff of Rainbow's Long Live Rock & Roll and creating a different beast entirely; twelve bar blues at its very finest.
Heartache in Blue has swagger in abundance; a steady and rolling drumbeat allowing Gibbons to unleash his astonishing voice once again. Singers' voices so often wear badly with age but Gibbons' has matured; gravelly and powerful, yet equally easy and laid back. I Don't Wanna Lose, Lose You continues in the same vein, again driven by Beard's excellent command of the kit. Flyin' High made its debut in space, requested by American astronaut and fan Mike Fossum on his way to the International Space Station early this summer
La Futura has it all, a whiskey soaked ballad in Over You, vintage cuts of classic ZZ Top in Big Shiny Nine and Consumption and even a less than subtle nod to Australian hell raisers AC/DC with the likes of Flyin' High and Heartache in Blue. Ten songs that prove that writing simple, hugely effective songs is much harder than it seems and these tracks are truly special. Even the album artwork is quintessentially 'Top'; the band's silhouettes standing proudly beneath the ZZ Top logo surrounded by a bed of roses and a sepia background.
Has the world been waiting for the new ZZ Top album? Probably not, but La Futura is a gem that should be cherished as living proof that music can still be carefree, enjoyable and will always remain close to the heart. If ZZ Top can produce more material of this standard, La Futura can only be bright.