Mclusky was one of the greatest punk bands in history. There, I said it. They may not be superfamous. They may not even have been terribly influential. But I defy you to find a band with wittier lyrics and more complex music. Few did the genre better: Not Black Flag, not The Pistols, not the Dead Kennedys, nobody. It was true punk, without an alternative twist or pop production.
Of course, mclusky is dead. But rising from the ashes of the brazenly brilliant band comes . . . Future of the Left.
Andy “Falco” Falkous (vox/guitar) and Jack Egglestone (drums) didnâ€™t hate each other enough to stay apart, so they joined with Kelson Mathias (vox/bass) of Jarcrew to form this new powerhouse group that released a shamefuly slept-on record back in 2007. (Count me among the sleeping– didnâ€™t even know the album came out until last month!)
Much like Fugazi, Future of the Left doesnâ€™t seem to want fame or success. Theyâ€™re known for playing secret shows to avoid crowds, and seem to be truly just in it for the music. And their dedication shows.
Curses is easily as good as mcluskyâ€™s best work, blending the political with the humorous, brilliant random one-liners with heady concepts, and, always, incredible, stripped-down hooks. But, in addition to what youâ€™d expect, Future of the Left stretches.
Oddly, though, one of the strongest tracks on the album is â€œManchasm,â€ which weaves with the changed entreaty: â€œAudience, please! Every minute matters!â€ with lyrics that tease Mark Foley (who owns a record studio in Cardiff) and some guy named â€œColinâ€ who, according to the song, is a pussy. The thing that makes the song so odd is: No lead guitar. Just an electronic riff and heavy rhythm.
â€œThe Lord Hates a Cowardâ€ is probably the most mclusky-like tune here, muscular, dark, and grinding, telling â€œtales of terrible menâ€ and concluding that â€œviolence solves everything.â€ Another unsurprising (but incredibly gratifying) track is “Small Bones Small Bodies,â€ an instant punk classic. And â€œPlague of Oncesâ€ features shouted verses between growls of â€œWhy put the body where the body donâ€™t wanna go!?â€
But then thereâ€™s â€œSuddenly Itâ€™s a Folk Song,â€ which sounds vaguely like Peter Gabriel â€“ and features some of the best drumming Iâ€™ve heard since the Foo Fightersâ€™ first two albums. And “Fuck the Countryside Alliance,â€ which has an almost Nirvana-like creep and could easily have been written by Johnny Rotten, but on several of the verses, Andy actually sounds like heâ€™s (gasp!) singing! (The vocals are center-stage in â€œCurses,â€ which is the most welcome change of all.) And “Real Men Hunt in Packs” has a piano!
Christ I wish Iâ€™d heard this album in â€™07. It would have been in my top ten for the best album of the year. Iâ€™m tempted to include it in my 2008 rundown, even if thatâ€™s cheating, because itâ€™s such a damn shame most of you never heard (or heard of) it.
What do you all think?Â Is it fair to put it in with the ’08s?