Release Date: Jun 12, 2012
Record label: Xtra Mile Recordings
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Previously, Future Of The Left made a strong case for the efficient, unindulgent three-piece being the platonic ideal of rock band setups. The three years in between second album ‘Travels With Myself And Another’ and this, its follow-up, have seen them expand to a quartet – yet the Cardiff group continue to have the practice of synthed-up, earwormy postpunk archness locked down. Strictly speaking, ‘The Plot…’’s 50-minute running time is probably 10 more than desirable, but this is still FOTL’s finest collection of songs yet.
Review Summary: We're all doomed. Deal with itIn a world gone mad there are many easy targets: the economy, weak governments, bloated consumerism, Sputnik’s users and much more besides. Andrew Falkous and his bandmates in both Future Of The Left (FotL) and his former group Mclusky have utilised abstract thought, words and instrumentation in an attempt to understand and convey their personal thoughts and the wider world around them.
Don't fuck this up, Future of the Left. It's your own fault, really. You set yourself a damn high watermark with 2009's Travels With Myself and Another: escaping from under the shadow of Mclusky and establishing yourselves as a band of equal if not higher stature than your much-lauded precursor. And then you had to go and change things.
Future of the LeftThe Plot Against Common Sense[Xtra Mile; 2012]By Zak Padmore; August 10, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetThe signs were less than encouraging when Future of the Left announced wholesale changes to their line-up. Mclusky and their new incarnation have always revelled in their three-piece restrictions, excelling in raw minimalistic assault. With the introduction of a second guitarist and the departure of founding bassist, Kelson Mathias, the very fabric of one of this generation’s great rock bands was being tampered with.
If you’re a fan of Future of the Left, then by now you’ve probably had a chance to see front man Andrew Falkous’ scathing rejoinder to Pitchfork’s review of his latest album. Among the many criticisms that drew the musician’s ire was an implication that Falkous, whose wit and rancor have become legendary in the indie rock community, spent too much of The Plot Against Common Sense taking pot shots at easy targets. Normally an incident like this wouldn’t be worth commenting on, except that, in this case, I think Pitchfork’s accusations point to a more pervasive attitude towards Falkous and his body of work, one that presents an overly simplified view of the artist in question.
Relentlessly insistent and expectedly dancey. We likey. Largely reining in the irreverence and wryly comedic observations of its predecessor – last year’s ‘Polymers Are Forever’ EP – ‘the plot against common sense’ sees Future Of The Left returning to the snarky, bitingly cynical stylings of yore, using the medium of recorded music to have a pop at everything they find dissatisfying in the modern world.
The Plot Against Common Sense unveiled Future of the Left's expanded lineup, minus longtime bassist Kelson Mathias and with new bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Julia Ruzicka and new guitarist/vocalist Jimmy Watkins. Any fears that a four-piece lineup would sap the originality or bite from the band's sound were unfounded: while early tastes of the album such as the Polymers Are Forever EP reaffirmed that the band's chunky riffs, caustic keyboards, and Jack Egglestone's remarkably creative yet economic drumming were all still in place, the rest of The Plot Against Common Sense reveals the revamped Future of the Left are just as committed to smart, angry, heavy rock as they always were. However, unlike the explosive ferocity of their previous album, Travels with Myself and Another, this time the group's attack is more of an enduring grind, with an almost mechanical precision on "Failed Olympic Bid" and a grim inevitability in "A Guide to Men"'s lumbering rhythm and claustrophobic synths.
Recently, the fine folks at Cokemachineglow introduced us to what I’ll call the Jamie Stewart Principle, named after Xiu Xiu’s heart-on-sleeve maestro. According to the Jamie Stewart Principle, outlined in Conrad Amenta’s great review of the latest Xiu Xiu record, Always (2012), there are certain artists for whom it just, you know, sucks to consider in terms of a record review’s numerical score. About Stewart and Xiu Xiu, Amenta writes, “Subjecting Jamie Stewart’s public catharsis to the pithy whiles of music criticism seems insensitive.” So, while his review discusses Xiu Xiu’s unique place in our musical landscape, it also discusses the difficulty of discussing that place.
First things first: yes, that’s the cover of the new Future of the Left record. No, I don’t know what the hell’s going on – other than the fact that seems to have a penguin on it, it’s the sort of thing even Muse or Biffy Clyro would turn their fucking noses up at. It’s so bad it may have fostered misgivings that Falco & co. might have lost the plot a bit, but don’t worry, Future of the Left are still making reliably cynical, witty, and occasionally catchy post-hardcore on their third album.
Andy Falkous is something of a personal hero, and if he ever decides to give up on music, I just hope an institution of higher learning allows him an emeritus professorship based on the philosophical principles set forth by Mclusky's Do Dallas. Our children deserve it. I say all of this because the corporate-slick production on Future of the Left's third album makes me wonder if this is still the guy who made the music of "To Hell With Good Intentions" and "You Need Satan More Than He Needs You" as sharp as their wit.
Future of the Left frontman Andy Falkous doesn’t sing; instead, he shouts and narrates. His lyrics are wordy socioeconomic commentaries sprinkled with non sequiturs, and like Black Francis and D. Boon before him, Falkous satirizes in front of a battery of drums and guitar abrasion. He’s been doing it since his days with mclusky and continues doing it on The Plot Against Common Sense, Future of the Left’s third full-length.
Cardiff’s finest seem to have been on a quest to become the most idiosyncratic band in the world for some years now. After two albums of unhinged, no-holds-barred rock ‘n’ rage, the sound of Andy Falkous and co. has become theirs and theirs alone, a stomping, militaristic assault that’s always been as funny as it was terrifying. The Dennis Hoppers of music.
Let’s get a couple of things straight before we go any further. Post-hardcore diehards pining for another Mclusky album are in for a disappointment. Frontman Andy Falkous has evolved past the verbose noise rock of his former band, and with Future Of The Left, he has realized his true musical destiny: to lead a rock band with equal parts steely cynicism, sardonic jest and sheer insanity.
Subversion of the most intelligent, insidious, inventive kind. Mischa Pearlman 2012 Formed from the still-smouldering ashes of mclusky and Jarcrew, Future of the Left began life in 2005 and immediately re-ignited the fire of those previous outfits with uncompromising, dark-humoured, nihilistic irreverence and a steadfast refusal to play by ‘the rules’. While the absence of mclusky was missed in alternative rock circles, there was enough bile in mainman and former mclusky ringleader Andy ‘Falco’ Falkous’ sneering lyrics and snarling delivery to make up for it.