I like pop music, and make no excuses about that. I also recognize that pop, by its nature, is designed to sound instantly familiar. Therefore, much of it ends up being forgettable or redundant.
Future of the Left do not make pop music. They don’t have harmonies, often lack melodies, and, sometimes, craft songs without distinct hooks. So why do I like them?
Screamcore, hardcore, true punk rock (like The Germs and the Vibrators) is extremely hard to make accessible or interesting. It often descends into rants lyrically, and musicwise these genres tend to substitute volume for talent and speed for coordination. Thankfully, Future of the Left do none of this.
The band rose from the ashes of one of the most respected punk rock bands of the postmodern age: Mclusky. A band whose song “Gareth Brown Says” has one of my favorite opening lines of all time: “All of your friends are cunts.”
Andy Falkous, the man behind the music, dumped Mclusky (after doing a song called “Fuck this Band”) and established FotL as a somewhat more polished band. Lyrically, he’s still smartly attacking pop culture (“Robocop 4 Fuck Off”) and the coopting of punk rock by corporations (“Sheena Is a T-Shirt Salesman”), and infusing social commentary with humor (“Sorry Dad, I Was Late For the Riots). Musically, the band has gotten increasingly clear: Smoother production, less phlegm in the voice and less growl, and guitar/bass work that rises out and above the crashing drums. Some will say that this means they’ve slowed down or lost their game. Or gotten older. But if that’s true, their fanbase has, too. And I’m one such person.
So although the latest album treads a few pieces of ground already blazed by Mclusky–and even by FotL on its own earlier album–I say there’s still life in the old girl. But then, I like some of Jay-Z’s later work as well. I just don’t put on Blueprint 3 when I really want to hear Reasonable Doubt.
The band has gotten older, but they’re still fighting for your right to have music that matters. And if they need to smooth it out a bit to reach the current generation, or, more likely, if they’ve just learned to play better over all these years, it just makes sense that they’re sound would reflect that growth.
As he says, “I’m sure that Chumbawumba will understand.”
I know I do. I’m still fan. Big, big fan. This record gets my highest recommendation.