The music industry is lying to you
It is telling you that you are excited
And you ARE excited
And you ARE excited...
From full frontal attacks on rushed reviews to dismay at how record companies have perceived and promoted them in the past, Future of the Left frontman Falco has always had a delicate relationship with the people who pass judgement on his band's output. Yet it seemed for a while like the loss of conventional label support and the ability to afford ample enough studio time was going to make a fourth album unlikely.
Thankfully it appears to have been the best thing that could have ever happened, as How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident is arguably^ the band's finest hour. Freed from label interference and buoyed by public support, the four let rip as if it's their first - or indeed last* - ever record.
Falco has never sounded better; his vocals are varied in delivery, range and content. The comedic edge to the words that so few bands ever find a way of passing off are more subtle than ever yet even more smile-inducing; the Stewart Lee if you will to his peers' Comedy Roadshow attempts. The amount of personality he injects throughout is a masterclass in frontmanship; there are obvious examples such as his gravely faux-country delivery of the album closer and the public announcement styling of 'Singing on the Bonesaws', but it's the little touches that get better with subsequent listens - the way his natural voice echoes certain lines within the aforementioned to lend extra clout, the tightening up and growling on the opener to add drama, his delayed delivery of lines within (the quite fabulous singalong) 'Donny on the Decks' for humorous benefit, the more melodic harmony that unveils itself on 'The Male Gaze'. It's all incredibly succinct too; no word is wasted, no topic over-laboured.
This sense of focus cuts through the whole record. Every song is between two and four minutes, largely guitar driven, to the point, and recorded without any bells and whistles. It has a vitality and pace to it that The Plot Against Common Sense (for all its many merits) lacked and the feel of a band giving it their all. Musically it all seems more assured too; the Wild West instrumentation on closer 'Why aren't I Going to Hell?' is perfectly judged, 'French Lessons' is the most beautiful song they've recorded whilst the quite filthy riffs and bass pay off of 'I Don't Know What You Ketamine (but I Think I Love You)' is the most feral they've sounded as a four-piece to date. 'Things to Say to a Friendly Policeman' also deserves a special note for featuring what sounds like a swarm of wasps on it but in actuality is just (I think) some real fucked up kazooing.
Faults are few and far between. Three tracks from a lesser known EP have been rerecorded but in my eyes rightly so; it would have been a crying shame if the likes of 'Johnny Borrell Afterlife' and 'The Real Meaning of Christmas' were left unheard on an obscure release, plus you can see the blueprint of the record they inspired contained within their innards. I guess I may have slightly rejigged the tracklisting myself but I'm really clutching at straws.
It seems fitting that in order for us all to prolong this relationship, we've had to enter into direct dialogue. There were requests and then rewards; no middlemen and subsequently no pre-release leaks. The fans got to hear the record take shape and the band got to do exactly as they pleased. All of which contributed to making Future of the Left's revitalised return stronger than ever before.
Reason to be excited. And you ARE excited. And you ARE excited...
^ I always think the sign of a great band is when people argue about their career high: for me it's this or Travels... but I know other folks who'd be aghast at that declaration given how daring the previous LP was, which is only ever a good thing.
- It isn't. Falco said so on Twitter.
9Sean Thomas's Score