Future Of The Left – Travels With Myself And Another (4AD)
It’s difficult to imagine, but when Mclusky split in 2005, eyes and hopes and ears were immediately focused on Shooting At Unarmed Men, the band that bassist Jon Chapple had quickly promoted from side-project to full-time frontal assault. Acclaimed though they were (and sometimes still are), they eventually became eclipsed by the majority of Mclusky, returning to music with both vocalist Andy Falkous and drummer Jack Egglestone joined by ex-Jarcrew bassist Kelson Mathias as Future Of The Left. There really was no war to be fought when the likes of Adeadenemyalwayssmellsgood and The Lord Hates A Coward sounded so fresh and acerbic. The refrain of the latter song went “Violence solves everything,” and it was totally true in the sonics of the dichotmised Mclusky.
For their second full-length album, Travels With Myself And Another, Future Of The Left do not take any musical steps forward, but have grown authority, assuredness and a really fucking good bad attitude. Beginning with a statement every bit as strong as Lightsaber Cocksucking Blues from Mclusky Do Dallas in Arming Eritrea, Travels… is close to being something of a rock anthem. Characteristically barbed at inception, its latent anger explodes beautifully when the farting guitar heralds Falkous’ entrance. “Come on, RICK!” is a nonsensically hilarious opening statement, and belies what’s to follow – utter popular music, aggravated and annoyed into a pure expression the likes of which the band has never before composed. Its tempestuous yelps migrate into vocal melody, for once, and the emotional impact is all the stronger for it. Emotional impact is not something we’ve come to expect amongst the sarcastic and sardonic emissions of Future Of The Left, but the sheer presence of such a strong melody affords it life and verve from chorus to bloody climax.
Similarly, the rickety Throwing Bricks At Trains benefits from the soulful (yes, soulful) vocal harmonies that pepper it lightly, making the balance of abrasion and attachment a little more even. Maybe it’s this balancing act that makes Travels… such a success – when they dabbled on Curses with dynamic dualities it was a lot more clear-cut than this new-found sophistication. The volume swoops and the harmonies get battered to death by the squelching rumble of Mathias’ bass more often than not, in battles that see FOTL dive for cover as much as they sally forth.
Clocking in at a shade over half an hour, this is a record comfortable with its own brevity. Not a single second is wasted across the whole, and the highlights are evenly spread out. Lines like “Goddamn, it’s gonna rain/I only brought my socks”, “yeah Satan rules/that doesn’t mean I can’t be practical” and “Emma’s mum and dad use plastic forks” are surreally perfect and delivered with such a straight face that you can’t possibly accuse Falkous of being light-weight or throwaway. Are they Britain’s slightly more comic Shellac? Are they Mclusky amped even further? Are they the saviours of intelligent rock? These are all pretty much a no (respectively: they care less for intricacy, the lyrical goalposts have moved and not enough people are aware of their excellence), but Future Of The Left are among the best the British Isles has to offer right now, with Travels With Myself And Another their most triumphant offering yet.
Wow-ee, you should do the whole ‘buy the record that’s not out yet but get a free download available now’ thing. Go here.