We might be through with the past, but the past ain’t through with us,” goes the saying, but now, finally, the past is through with Future Of The Left. Their debut ‘Curses’, stunning though it was, was beset by memories of the members’ former bands and subsequently ignored by anyone without intimate knowledge of Cardiff’s DIY music scene (ie, almost everyone). But now FOTL can move forward as A Band rather than Three Ex-Members Of Other Bands because they no longer sound like their old bands.
‘Travels…’ is the Bill Hicks of albums; just as the late comic was mistaken for a misanthrope when he was in fact a man in love with life but incensed with the world, this is an erudite sculpture of aggression, a Reservoir Dogs-like work where the violence carries the statement and the ridiculousness of modern life is always visible. Take opener ‘Arming Eritrea’, a sarcastic howl of warring guitars and drums like bombs, or the punishingly droll ‘You Need Satan More Than He Needs You’, both thrillingly noisy but still intricate and considered, while ‘Land Of My Formers’ boils like a cauldron of acid.
Where they used to be all angles and jagged rhythms, there’s now a thickness of sound that distinguishes ‘Travels…’ from their past endeavours, both Future-related and otherwise. And threaded throughout is
a wit provided by the juxtaposition of Andy Falkous’ hilariously obtuse lyrics (anyone want to write “slight bowel movements preceded the bloodless coup” on their bag in Tipp-Ex?) with humongously catchy art rock fury.
Its economy is one of its biggest boons. “Some people may think that 33 minutes is too short for a record,” said drummer Jack Egglestone. “These people are wrong.” Lest we forget, Green Day’s turgid new album is over 69 minutes long and considering ‘Drink Nike’ packs an album’s worth of wry observations into under two and a half minutes, while ‘Stand By Your Manatee’ and ‘Chin Music’ have nary a wrought riff nor atonal scree wasted, he’s got a point.
Most importantly, ‘Travels…’ feels like a product of 2009, a coruscating reaction to everything that makes us mad but which is never self-righteous or preachy. As ’80s revivalism hits its self-fellating peak, it’s a pleasure to hear an album that knows escapism isn’t dressing up like a fucking unicorn – it’s shutting your eyes and screaming until your throat burns.
[I]DOWNLOAD: 1) ‘Arming Eritrea’ 2) ‘I Am Civil Service’ 3) ‘Chin Music’ [/I]