Unspun Heroes – Mclusky, ‘Mclusky Do Dallas’

Jamie Fullerton finds a brutal beauty with the future Future Of The Left trio’s original incarnation

The fact that Future Of The Left are without a record deal is the kind of ridiculously unjust situation that makes you wonder quite how wrong in the head most of the music-buying public are. But while the Cardiff trio have given us two stonking albums, it was as their previous incarnation, Mclusky – before bassist Jon Chapple left and Kelson Mathias stepped in – that they made the record that will be frontman Andy Falkous’ deepest chisel into rock’s annals.

‘Mclusky Do Dallas’, their 2002 second album, is a colossally hard-hitting record. Aided by Steve Albini’s anvil-pound production, Chapple’s thunderous bass hooks turned songs such as ‘To Hell With Good Intentions’ and closer ‘Whoyouknow’ into improbably memorable anti-tunes, with the riffs of Falkous – surely one of the most underrated guitarists in the UK – searing through the middle with the urgent clarity of Pixies at their best. The band got frustrated with comparisons to Frank Black and co, but these were always justified. As well as sharing the band’s distinctive electric saw riffery, they similarly mastered the near-impossible task of balancing enormous tunes with genuine heaviness.

For Mclusky-heads, early previews of ‘…Do Dallas’ (first single proper ‘To Hell…’ and a limited run of delirious hi-hat thrash ‘Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues’) promised the prospect of the band stepping up and gaining the recognition they deserved – it seemed impossible that these songs could be ignored. But with the angular likes of Franz Ferdinand steering indie towards more needly fields, beyond John Peel’s patronage Mclusky continued to be unjustly overlooked to the extent that the NME Reviews Editor at the time admitted it was a “travesty” they didn’t get more coverage – failing to see the irony of those words coming from a man with such a job title. With FOTL finally Falkous gained the critical acclaim he deserved, but by then it was too late.