There is a music magazine in the UK called the NME, you’ve probably heard of it. It is a publication that often gets ridiculed for album reviews written in the style of excitable school children — a type of penmanship that singer Andrew “Falco” Falkous from Future of the Left puts under the microscope at the start of their song “Singing of the Bonesaws” on their new album How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident. (“The music industry is lying to you/It is telling you you are excited/And you are excited/And you are excited, or rather you have confused excitement with the fear of missing out.”)
Personally, I think, if a writer loves an album with such an unbridled joy that they can’t control themselves they should be allowed to express that exuberance on the page with all the hyperbole, superlatives, alliteration and exclamation marks they want. Who cares if the end result makes the author come across like a hot and bothered teenager? It makes for an enjoyable read.
The only problem I have with that approach to writing, and I’m presuming it’s Falco’s too, is its overuse. I can only read “ALBUM OF THE DECADE” or “THIS IS WHAT ALL GUITAR MUSIC SHOULD ASPIRE TO!!!!” so many times before I stop believing the hype and start to suspect that, as it’s usually the author’s umpteenth piece in that style, that they don’t really believe what they are writing either. It often makes me question if there is some sort of payola taking place — either that or the people at the NME and other music magazines of that ilk are just a lot less picky about the albums they bestow those sort of accolades on than I. (Or maybe that’s just me being bitter as my band have never been able to afford a good review.)
In fact, an album of the calibre that makes me want to switch my caps lock on and my sense of perspective off comes along so incredibly rarely that I often get jealous when I read the demonstrative prose in the NME. I long to feel that way about an album too.
Thankfully, How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident is exactly that rare album I want to write that way about, and the four paragraphs you just read are just an excuse for me to write the following with no shame:
FUTURE OF THE LEFT ARE THE GREATEST BAND EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
When I’m listening to their new record I lose complete control of my senses. It is as if somebody has distilled my entire record collection down to its base elements and then created something new and incredible from the ingredients.
I hear the Yummy Fur and Half Japanese in the playful experimentation of the music, I hear a versatility on a par with Vivian Stanshall and Black Francis in Falco’s voice, and in his lyrics the dry wit and wry observations of Half Man Half Biscuit and John Cooper Clarke. If I had a check sheet of everything I liked about music, this album would tick all the boxes.
I SHOULD JUST THROW MY RECORD COLLECTION AWAY ALL I NEED IS THE NEW FUTURE OF THE LEFT ALBUM!!!!!!!! OMG IT IS PERFECT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The already mentioned “Singing of the Bonesaws” is probably where my thoughts of Vivian Stanshall are springing from — the vocals are delivered in a rather spiffing English accent which, when coupled with a thumping post-punk bassline, brings to mind a furious Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. This song also contains more than a shade of the sort of surreal grumble rants that Nigel Blackwell from Half Man Half Biscuit delivers at least once an album, although with the added benefit of everything being taken up a notch. While I can imagine Nigel singing about “Kim Kardashian being chased through woodland by a giant bear that carries the visage of recently deceased film director Michael Winner” I cannot imagine him singing about people “ramming camera tripods into bloody eyes” or “children clad head to toe in menstrual blood.”
Actually, maybe I can, but that doesn’t stop this album feeling like an EVOLUTIONARY STEP FORWARD IN GUITAR MUSIC!!
It really does feel like that, it is as if all of my favourite records fucked and had this amazing child that was even better at channeling heartbreak and frustration than its parents.
Case in point being “French Lessons” which is all heartbreak and frustration, John Cooper Clarke-style, played out over splashes of piano and low humming guitars with the sort of falsetto Black Francis often surprises us with. It nearly reduced me to tears with its final refrain of “The rich kids stole the ball.”
Of course, it is not just the fact that this album, the Welsh group’s fourth, sounds like the splicing together of the DNA of all my favourite artists that makes me want to write about it with the glee of a giddy schoolboy. It is outstanding in its own right.
I’ve been a fan of Future of the Left from the very beginning. They themselves are part of the ingredients I look for in other records, and for all the bands I’m claiming they sound like, this is the actually, and obviously, the most Future of the Left-sounding record I have ever heard. And let me tell you why.
Falco has, here more than ever before, managed to hone his fury and righteous indignation into Iyrics that are as cathartic to listen to as I imagine they were to write — I (almost) found myself punching the air in agreement when I first heard the lyric “Teenage me is disappointed/in the fucked-up record-buying public/Everybody is just pretending” from “How to Spot a Record Company.” Usually, when I want to hear lyrics like that I have to write them myself. And as for the music? Well, Future of the Left deftly and thrillingly use more imagination on this record — in the first song alone — than most bands muster in their entire careers.
I’D LIKE TO WRITE MORE ABOUT THE MUSIC BUT I AM AT A LOSS BECAUSE IT IS SO FUCKING AWESOME IT IS BEYOND DESCRIPTION!!!
Also, I’m not very good at describing music, I don’t know all the correct terms, but I should probably try. So I’ll give it a go.
I love the way that “Future Child Embarrassment Matrix” starts heavy and hard, then slows down to a sexy sludge of bass before smashing the two elements together into a grand finale of fake endings and a distorted slowed-down voice. I love the aggressive glam stomp of “The Male Gaze” with its lackadaisical-sounding wooo-wooo and sudden stop. “Things to Say to Friendly Policemen” has punk rock kazoos on the chorus (KAZOOS!) and, finally, I especially love the use of the voice as an instrument throughout the album, with rhythm and pitch constantly changing to add another dimension to the already incredibly solid music. Other than that, all I can tell you is that my brain was tricked and enriched with genuine surprises with almost every song and that it has been so long since a record did that to me I forgot how rewarding and great it feels.
If I were expected to give a number out of ten for this album, I would give it a hundred million out of ten. It is the sound of a bunch of self-assured, talented motherfuckers doing what the fuck they want and it is glorious. This brave new world where How To Stop Your Brain in an Accident exists has made me itchy to start work on the new Art Brut album.
THE NEW FUTURE OF THE LEFT ALBUM REALLY IS WHAT ALL GUITAR MUSIC SHOULD ASPIRE TOOOOOOOOO!!!!! HOOOORAYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!MOTHERFUCKER!!!!!!!!BUY THIS ALBUM !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!WHOOOOOOOOOOO!