The Cardiff music scene had a rough old 2005: January of that year saw the demise of punk mentalists Mclusky and prog-hardcore types Jarcrew. These were two of the Welsh capital’s leading lights, and bands whose careers deserved more than the understated respect that accompanied their respective existences. Jarcrew split because their drummer Rhod Thomas turned to religion – surprising given he was previously renowned for launching himself from his drum kit clad in a flame-print thong emblazoned with the words ‘Hot Rod’. Meanwhile, Mclusky didn’t cite a reason. “But thank you for all the hate,” sneered singer Andy Falkous, before adding menacingly, “There will be more music from all of us…”
It’s fitting, then, that Falkous and Mclusky drummer Jack Egglestone have united with Jarcrew mainman Kelson Mathias to form Future Of The Left; more so considering that their new concern fuses the bits that made their previous bands special. The Mclusky men bring the Pixies-indebted loud-quiet-loud dynamics; the Jarcrew man the ability to write songs that sound like liquid-acid-dipped-crows have taken roost in your brain. The result is certainly special – this is a debut infused with imagination.
In the same way that Klaxons skewed the possibilities of pop, FOTL are attempting to do the same for rock. ‘Curses’ is an album that’s both challenging and engrossing; vivid in its use of words and sounds.
The songs work as escapist fiction and as an inspiring soundtrack to change and creativity; it’s a record that sounds like the work of three men tugging the template of rock’n’roll apart and reassembling the bits like an evil toddler fixing a broken toy. Witness the throbbing anti-funk of ‘Plague Of Onces’, which sounds like hardcore braniacs Minutemen cribbing the Melvins’ guitars, or ‘Small Bones Small Bodies’, which takes the most mental, freakout Black Sabbath number, adds a fistful of drugs, a shot of weed killer and a line of ants, then gargles it until every piece of music ever recorded that isn’t said song sounds pointless. It’s a collection of tracks that are what rock’n’roll should sound like circa 2007: an adventure; a reinvention of what is possible with vocals, guitars and drums. It’s an orgy of intelligent noise that straddles the divide between inspirational ecstasy and bloody, defeated nihilism. And that’s what makes NME want to beat 99 per cent of current rock bands until they’re more blood and puss than body. Repeated plays underline how few others are actually trying, and the graphic, visceral themes of FOTL’s songs (“Violence solves everything!” cries opener ‘The Lord Hates A Coward’) suggests its creators feel the same way. Doffing their caps to the perverted malevolence of Big Black (whose mainman Steve Albini helped make Mclusky’s savage backcatalogue snap and growl) and the no wave bloody mindedness of bands like Swans and early Sonic Youth, ‘Curses’ is a record that appears to loathe the scene into which was born. ‘Fingers Become Thumbs’ couldn’t be more angry if Henry Rollins had been drafted in on guest triangle, while ‘Real Men Hunt In Packs’ is the sound that goes through people’s heads seconds before they stab someone to death – without the pesky life sentence. Cardiff – 2005 was a shit one, but 2007 is shaping up to be a belter. And that 99 per cent of other rock bands? Well, we’re coming for you, screwdriver held high.