Review: Future Of The Left “Travels With Myself and Another”
Excellent, heavy, alternative rock band release second album. Features all their numerous qualities, but sounds relatively weak on first listen. Quick grower however and proves to be a great second effort.
Or I could take slightly longer over this review I suppose.
A slightly spooky riff fades in against a hi hat; drums and rim shots come in gently and WHAM, “Come on, Rick, I’m not a prize, I’m not a cynic or one of those guys”, and the fun really starts.
Blasts of distorted guitar chords spit out then chime towards orbit. Drums fill the gaps, Falkous shouts. Songs lack much of the familiarity that nods to a traditional rock heritage would supply. Short riffs repeat as they might in techno, or like a sample might loop.
The lyrics combine nonsense (to the listener at any rate), humour, politics, wordplay and anger. They know how to give a song a title. “Drink Nike”, “Lapsed Catholics” and “The Hope That House Built” all, I think, deal with religion, which to my mind is politics. The latter is one of the highlights of the album. A childishly simply riff is joined by some sort of stalking psychobilly, before it turns into a military stomp, interrupted only by another, this time distorted, child’s riff / scale “Come join, come join our hopeless cause, Come join, come join our lost cause”. Verse two invites us to “re-imagine God as just a mental illness”
Sure, they’re not totally original – ripping off McLusky is outrageous – but they are pretty unique. Ugly unique.
Synths when they appear do not take the music in easier directions, rather they ratchet the noise up when the guitar refuses to do so. The backing vocals are spot on.
“I am Civil Service” picks the pace up again, and the riffs stay simple as fuck, until the chorus, which is a hint that FOTL could be a normal band if they wanted to. Just about the only hint we get.
“Land Of My Formers” is in many ways a particularly belligerent version of Krautrock. Fuck, this shit is mean as hell, but it’s life affirming with it. This is the sort of stuff, along with Misifts and Black Flag that can guide me through the morning rush hour, safely, sanity intact, ready to face a day at work
It ain’t chilled vocals about a sunset on Ibiza that makes the next track less aggressive than many of the others. When Future Of The Left ease off it is generally a reduction in the volume (height by width by depth, not loudness) of the guitars, as on “You Need Satan More Than He Needs You” rather than any fundamental change in tempo or vocal style. “That Damn Fly”, though, actually has a guitar line that doesn’t seem to want to kill you.
After the revelation that “Emma’s mum and dad use plastic knives and forks” they kinda hint at the sort of track that the Stranglers might have written 30 years ago, a big compliment by the way, with a couple of interplaying keyboard lines.
After an almost-acoustic guitar riff starts “Lapsed Catholics”, it is joined by the vocals –
“Whose prison break is the most impressive?
I’m gonna go, I’m gonna go, I’m gonna go Tim Robbins in Jacob’s Ladder.
Such patience, such verve and poise,
But wait a minute, shit, that’s the wrong film.
Morgan Freeman would roll in his grave, if he were dead,
Which he nearly was, if you believe the hysterical gung-ho Technicolor crapfest
That is Sky News, or Murdoch live, or whatever the hell the devil calls himself.
Sky News, or Murdoch live, or whatever the hell the devil calls himself.”
But just before you’re ready to think that they’re going soft a keyboard riff ups the ante, the drums kick in and, not-metaphorically speaking, it quite literally happens, all hell breaks loose. 20 seconds of acoustic and vocals and the fun’s over and you’re ready to GO TO TRACK ONE.
Jerky, aggressive, loud, big, fun, serious. Catchy, addictive. I don’t care what you want, this is what you need.