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AU57: Future Of The Left album review

June 1, 2009

FOTL album

FUTURE OF THE LEFT
TRAVELS WITH MYSELF AND ANOTHER
4AD

Andrew Falkous is an angry man. We know this for two reasons. The first is his fondness for lengthy, witty and volcanically pissed-off blog posts on the band’s Myspace page. A few weeks ago, for the second album running, the new record leaked onto the Internet and Falkous was not amused. “Approximately eight and a half weeks before release and only three since the fucking thing was mastered and whilst members of the band don’t have shiny little embossed copies, there is a promotional CD of the record on sale at eBay for twenty five quid,” he ranted. As a result, you can pre-order the record before its June 22 release date and receive the mp3s straight away.

Secondly though, and of course more importantly, there’s his track record of making extremely angry music, both with his first band mclusky, and now with Future Of The Left. This second album only enhances his reputation for rage and, to be honest, if you’re already a fan of either mclusky or Future Of The Left or (ideally) both, you won’t need me to sell it to you. Quite simply, it rules. It’s just over half an hour long, it’s fearsomely loud, and it’s chock-full of the neat little one-liners you’ll be screaming back at Falkous at the band’s gigs, not to mention the sly pop hooks and nagging riffs that prove that Future Of The Left – and Falkous himself – are about more than just volume.

The switch between mclusky and Future Of The Left was, in basic terms, just a change of bassist and a change of name. However, ex-Jarcrew bassist Kelson Mathias brought with him more than just his instrument, as the debut album Curses (2007) proved. Future Of The Left are still hacked off, but there’s a sense of fun there, a playfulness; musically at least. Mathias’s basslines can be elastic and danceable as well as levelling a venue with sheer force, as mclusky bassist (and apparently Falkous’s nemesis) Jon Chapple was wont to do. The other major change was the addition of a synth. I say addition, but it’s more of a supersub – a tactical switch for the guitar that depends on the song. It’s synth or guitar, never both. Travels With Myself And Another develops on both these ideas.

‘You Need Satan More Than He Needs You’ is key. It’s about a half-hearted, well-adjusted Satanist – the kind of minion that makes sure he’s sorted out a babysitter and wet weather gear before he ventures out to the Satanic swinging session. “What kind of orgy leaves a sense of deeper love?” indeed. Comedy lyrics, then, but delivered with the raw-throated conviction that is Falkous’s trademark, and boasting a thoroughly evil synth riff and wickedly funky groove.

‘Throwing Bricks At Trains’ is another synth-led triumph, an enigmatic tale of teenage delinquency, the bricks being “sad reminders of former glories”. Then there’s ‘Chin Music’, apparently an ode to the West Indian fast bowlers of the Eighties. A worthy topic for a song to be sure, though in truth it’s hard to discern from the lyrics alone. The song is a perfect example of one of the band’s biggest strengths – its understanding of minimalism and restraint. Thus, the verses only need a meaty bassline, drums and Falkous’s roar to make their point, the guitar not being employed until the chorus. But when it is, it makes its presence felt – that little riff attacks with gusto and stays in your head for days.

And there’s where we’ll leave it, because just about every one of these 12 songs bears singling out. Yes, they are loud and angry and have witty lyrics and as such they aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel, but is there anyone else doing balls-out post-punk with as much flair and conviction, and quality control as this? If so, send it our way.

9/10

DOWNLOAD: ‘ARMING ERITREA’, ‘YOU NEED SATAN MORE THAN HE NEEDS YOU’, ‘CHIN MUSIC’.
FOR FANS OF: MCLUSKY, LES SAVY FAV, SHELLAC.

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