Future of the Left have made the news recently due to their Pitchfork fightback* which strangely might be a boon to them. The true believers (such as myself) felt vindicated that the integrity of their favourite band was defended so valiantly by main man Andy Falkous step by step dissection of a lazy review while a whole bunch of Pitchfork doubters discovered a great band. I have no hesitation in saying that Pitchfork got it wrong (hey reviewer, I paid for my copy of the album) because The Plot Against Common Sense is a the joyous punch in the face that you'd expect: at turns difficult, literate and unrelenting, it is never less than captivating.
Future of the Left are a musical force driven by Falkous's singular take on the world that is bitingly funny and cynical yet laced with a sincere undercurrent. For all the absurdist non-sequiturs, social satire and railing against capital, the casual listener may miss the burning passion, intelligence and pathos that underlies the music all of which can happen within the space of a two minute song. Case in point, album highlight Beneath the Waves an Ocean starts off like a bad joke with the line "Three men walk into a cafe," but the song ends with the conclusion "No way you'll ever find peace, you'll ever find peace with the name they gave you." This doesn't sound like a joke, it sounds like brutally real admonishment. Anchored by a claustrophobic Jesus Lizard-esque bass riff, it is excellent.
Humour and music can be tricky because a joke song can date quickly and genuine humour can be misconstrued. The humour on The Plot Against Common Sense is rooted in a deeper sentiment and even the excellently titled Robocop 4 - Fuck Off Robocop gets to the heart of a creatively bankrupt entertainment industry churning out sequels and reboots with increasingly diminishing returns. All the songs are driven by an underlying punk heart; I am the least of your problems is a number 1 hit in an alternate universe that cares about good music while Polymers are forever is a re-imagining of robot rock for an ADD generation. Other highlights include Goals in slow motion and Notes on achieving orbit while the only weak link is Cosmo's Ladder, a difficult piece based on a keyboard lick that ultimately goes nowhere.
What's it all about? I learnt my lesson from the Pitchfork debacle to try to discern meaning from Falkous's lyrics but there is no doubt the band err to the left, distrust capitalism and most likely hate the royal family (that's just a guess but I hate the royal family so maybe that's wishful thinking). However, whether you understand the greater narrative or not, there are enough lyrical nuggets with fist pumping rock moves of joy to keep anyone happy. Maybe I'm getting older but the latest and greatest bands seem pale and shadowy while Future of the Left deliver music with power, urgency and purpose. It might not be for everyone and that's ok, because not everyone deserves music this good. Fuck 'em if they don't get it.
*My hunch on the Falkous-Pitchfork take down has less to do with a bad review and more to do with the reviewer saying that his heart wasn't in it and he was phoning it in. I'm not sure what record that guy was listening to but you can hear nothing but passion on this abum so Falkous was rightly pissed off.