Future of the Left returns!
A few years back, I was turned onto this Welsh trio called McLusky. They combined the quirkiness of the Pixies with the assault of Brainiac (though no synths back then) and turned it into a total face-melting machine. With that scream, you'd swear Falco (McLusky vocalist/guitarist Andrew Falkous, not the "Rock Me Amadeus" dude) would jump out of the speaker and punch you in the sack if he didn't seem so intent on making you giggle. To this day, I have never seen a band with a better knack for song titles. Some examples: "Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues," "Fuck This Band," "Without MSG I am Nothing," "Collagen Rock," "Your Children are Waiting for You to Die." Back then it seemed like every band coming out were being hailed as "rock revivalists." But the White Stripes and the Hives sounded laughable when put up against these guys. Falco's screeching guitar, the massive fuzz bass of Jonathan Chapple and the crashing drums of Matthew Harding (replaced by the even better Jack Egglestone on their swan song, The Difference Between Me and You is that I'm Not on Fire)... Words can only go so far.
Sadly, the trio broke up, and I mourned in the only way Falco would have found to be proper: drinking whiskey, nude, listening to McLusky Do Dallas.
Imagine my surprise when I was reading Matt's blog a couple years back and saw this video featuring an awesome song by Future of the Left, which included Falco and Jack! Through some Internetting, I learned they had an EP out (Fingers Become Thumbs!) and had just released their debut full-length, Curses. I didn't think they could top the kick-in-the-gut oomph of McLusky, but along the way they picked up Kelson Mathias, former singer for Jarcrew, an unusually cheesy (particularly in comparison to FOTL) Welsh pop group. Kelson proved himself a more than capable bassist, every bit as tight as Chapple, and his tone was even more abrasive.
As hardcore as McLusky was, many of their songs had some catchy hooks underneath the fuzz. Future of the Left came out of the gates sounding much darker, kind of like a more muscular (if you can imagine it) Shellac. Odd time changes, goofy tunings, intentionally shitty instrument tones... But it was all beautiful.
And the hooks were not completely gone. Falco started playing synth (a nasty, farty synth, not a wussy Styx synth), which carries the main melody of what is probably their "biggest" song, "Manchasm."
I got to see them this spring at a SXSW showcase. Their live show is every bit as intense as their albums suggest - the precision and energy was unbelievable. A few new, more tuneful songs had worked their way into the set, and I learned a new album was on the way. A couple of weeks ago, I read that it was due for release on June 23, but (yay!) if you pre-order a CD or vinyl, you get an instant download from their web site! Deal. Yes, with the exchange rates, I paid the equivalent of $19 for a 33-minute album, but was it ever worth it.
It opens with Jack's hi-hat and Falco's guitar engaged in a dark, tentative dance which quickly explodes into the slamming punctuated rhythms that defined their sound of their early work, as Falco screams "C'MON RICK! I'M NOT A CHILD!" He has an odd/funny habit of calling people out by name in his songs... I'm digging this so far and then, what's this? A soaring guitar hook flying over a sea of bass sludge. It's almost catchy. And this theme continued, and while they had not changed their attack, they most certainly had evolved. Most striking was the atheism-themed barroom stomper, "The Hope that House Built." I say this not because of the video below, but because of the militaristic-yet-swinging (listen - it will make sense) rhythm and drinking song melody.
"Chin Music" is best described by the line, "I only hit him because he made me crazy; I only hit him because he made me mad." And the way Falco screams it, you believe he wanted to hit someone. The album continues alternating between classic FOTL face-melters to odd, new experiments, such as the electro-stomp number "You Need Satan More than He Needs You" and yes - that is the chorus. Also notable is the garage-punk rager "Stand By Your Manatee" (yes, they can still come up with great song titles). The album closes with "Lapsed Catholics" (clearly not fans of religion, but that's hardly a rare thing in rock and roll), which opens with Falco muttering an amusing rant on prison breaks, the near-death of Morgan Freeman, and the banality of the media. In the background a strange, fingerpicked acoustic guitar plays, abruptly launching in a primitive and, as much as I hate to say it, Andrew WK-like romp. This goes back and forth a couple of times, and while this song is probably the least like anything prior, and they might have stretched it too far. However that is the only even remotely weak track on the album. And even that one may grow on me over time.
If you likey what you saw/heard/read above, the album can be pre-ordered here: http://www.futureoftheleft.com/shop/