Future of the Left – The Plot Against Common Sense
You have to admire a man who has the energy to hate everything he sees, let alone express his contempt in such a lucid and cohesive manner, yet Andy Falkous has been doing just that for more than a decade, and seems to be showing no signs of slowing down with the latest release from current vehicle Future of the Left.
Despite such displays of razor-sharp wit and sneering resentment, Falkous’s ferocious sonic attack has consigned him to the doldrums of semi-cult status among UK indie aficionados, and his latest effort is unlikely to prove his chart-breakthrough.
Though they lost bassist and funny-man Kelson Mathias , the new-look Welsh foursome have been promising great things for the last few months – the release of the excellent Polymers are Forever EP last December seemed to set a high watermark for the forthcoming album but, unfortunately, the resultant LP doesn’t quite hit the heights that fans might hope for.
Once upon a time, Falkous would gleefully pick such disparate targets as occultist orgy-goers and paranoid archaeologists and subject them to near-incomprehensible barrage of ridicule, while cleverly giving little away in the form of crass opinion. It seems now, however, that he has come to see himself as a bit of a punk Charlie Brooker – his withering diatribes have now become rants on Things Andy Doesn’t Like. And boy, he hates everything.
‘Sheena is a Tee Shirt Salesman’ opens the album in typically urgent, caffeinated fashion – picking up on the annoyance felt by music fans upon noticing H&M sell tee shirts of their favourite bands, before Failed Olympic Bid chooses a more topical target, hiding behind a mucky mess of synths and trademark gut-punching bass.
Indeed, ‘Polymers Are Forever’ – reputedly a swipe at the cosmetic surgery boom of recent years (really?!) – acts as the album’s centerpiece and provides a good reference point for listeners who find themselves lost in some of the album’s demo-like weaker moments (‘Robocop 4: Fuck Off Robocop’ is at the bad end of “bad”).
The humour, despite the sudden insistence to make a point, is still there, however. Attacking dissenting trustafarians (‘Sorry Dad, I Was Late For The Riots’) and racist footballers (‘Goals In Slow-Motion’), and going from Falkous’s urgent warning that “civilized people don’t fuck bears”, it’s nice to see the occasional lull in which the band don’t take themselves too seriously.
Much of the album sounds like a B-Sides-and-Rarities-style compilation – one of its highlights, ‘I Am The Least Of Your Problems’, sounds exactly the same as the demo version that surfaced online last year. This would appear to be the band’s Achilles’ heel, as the album is merely a good producer away from a 9/10, and leaves one praying for a reunion with Do Dallas/In Utero (delete according to importance) producer Steve Albini.
Now don’t get me wrong – I like this album. A lot. If it were made by anybody else I would be irritating my friends with links to its Spotify page. I see myself simply as a fan of a band who have previously set themselves enormously high standards. Future of the Left still have enough in their locker to be Wales’s Best Band (Shirley Bassey doesn’t count), and in asking us during the sprawling album-closer ‘Notes On Achieving Orbit’: “Where were you when Russell Brand discovered fire?”, Falkous manages to cap off an enjoyable, if not particularly inspired take on the difficult third album.