Review of Future Of The Left's album Travels With Myself and Another.
Not many bands would make the centrepiece of their album a song about the practicalities of devil worshipping, but on the evidence offered by Travels With Myself And Another, Future of The Left are far from most other bands. Formed after the violent combustions of the more orthodox hardcore Cardiff outfits Mclusky and Jarcrew, the trio of Andy Falkous, drummer Jack Egglestone and splendidly named bass player Kelson Matthias debuted promisingly in 2007 with the amphetamine rage of Curses (Sample song title:adeadenemyalwayssmellsbetter). But in contrast Travels...is not simply modern punk with a full fish supper on both shoulders. Indeed, with a bit of perseverance non-acolytes will find that having once penetrated it's unwelcoming hide, the lyrical eloquence, pitch dark humour and gritty, incendiary guitars combine to make it one of 2009's hard rock albums of the year.
Anyway back to Old Nick. On You Need Satan More Than He Needs You Falkous and co. epitomise what the band are seemingly all about, confronting their audience at every level; verbal, intellectual and spiritual. The subject here is conflicted by his desire to get with Mephistopheles, but his babysitter's lift is late and he's got no way to transport his goat to the orgy. And all of this bumps jarringly along with the smack of synth beat which feels like a rubberised hose on the ribcage. You don't want to think about the mind that comes up with this kind of shit.
Elsewhere Falkous chooses to be more oblique, but his cast of characters mostly resemble a clutch of knaves redrawn via Burroughs and a media savvy Charles Dickens. Whether the allusions are obvious or not, there's a perverse sense of epic throughout, present in the towering opener Arming Eritrea, running through the likes of Chin Music and the hyperactive Stand By Your Manatee like petrol on fire. The lasting impression is one of invigoration, questions, denials and surrendering to life's absurdities, whilst In the process and more than once ..Travels recalls, and eclipses, the decayed majesty of Ritchie Edwards final uncathartic howl, the Manic Street Preachers' Holy Bible.
The same fate as Mclusky seems likely for Future of The Left - engulfed in critical acclaim, recognition of their agenda from the pop obsessed mainstream world seems impossible. But when Falkous is happy to start Chin Music with "Slight...bowel movement..preceded..the bloodless coup" you know that he's completely comfortable with dissecting society and culture from the outside it's boundaries. One review of Travels With Myself and Another pithily advised you to play it loud. I simply implore you just to play it.