Key Tracks: “bread, cheese, bow and arrow” “donny of the decks”
Some bands take a few albums to really find their groove. FotL’s first two albums – “Curses” and “Travel With Myself and Another” – are great releases, but they seem tame compared to 2012’s “the plot against common sense.” That album, another one of my 10 favorites*, has an unfiltered and relentless energy, sparked by production that’s both rough and loud. Very, very loud. The band’s post-hardcore is very metrical, a meter that sometimes is too fast to function. But this album is different. Their fourth album takes the tempo down, resulting in a more balanced release.
Now, that deserves an explanation. FotL has been one of the angriest bands in all of music. mclusky was an angry band, and when they broke up, some members formed the even angrier Future of the Left. Their music is satirical and politically-charged, taking on everyone from low-level British politicians to the queen herself. 2012’s “failed olympic bid” investigated the consequences of British athletes failing to qualify for their own Olympics. By saying their new album is a little slowed down, I’m not trying to imply they’ve softened. Now that they’re an independent band, they can be as motivated as they went. Their titles alone conjure a Dead Kennedys type shock reaction – “she gets passed around at parties,” “things to say to friendly policemen,” and, fittingly, “how to spot a record company.” The anger, the yelling, the satire, even bits of talking are all included and as strong as they always have been.
They’ve only slowed down musically. Opening track “bread, cheese, bow and arrow” starts off with a rhythm slower than all but one from “plot against.” But it’s a menacing riff, one that calls back to the beginning of “Arming Eritrea.” Slower and longer songs give the band some extra room to flesh out their ideas, which only brings out the anger more. A handful of songs are still blisteringly fast, but it’s more mixed this time around. The final song, “why aren’t i going to hell?” even has – gasp – an acoustic guitar. The synthesizer, oddly enough, has been downplayed (much to the chagrin of mclusky fans), but it is still a more varied listen than what we’ve come to expect.
I’ve had the pleasure to see this band three times (once in ’07, twice in ’12, the second of which was the tour with Andrew Jackson Jihad) and they’ve put on easily three of the best shows I’ve ever seen. I bought a shirt last time, that guitarist Jimmy Watkins accidentally spilled a beer on almost instantly. I’ve never been able to stop emphasizing my love for this band. “how to stop your brain in an accident” isn’t as instantly memorable as their previous album, but it showcases what the band is about just as well. And this batch of fourteen songs are like their old ones – probably best appreciated live. Don’t expect to hear for a few days.
If you like this, try: Maybe because I’ve been listening to it a lot later, but Jay Reatard’s “Blood Visions.” Miss you, Jay.
* – I’ve mentioned about 6 of my 10 favorite albums lately. It’s just coincidence, honestly, I try to keep my “10 favorite” down to 20 and not 100.