Do you know who Losers are? Perhaps you do, in which case you probably supported the recent, successful crowdfunding campaign which helped How to Ruin Other People's Futures come to pass. If not and you've clicked on this review out of curiosity, then I actually envy you. You see, Losers are that all too rare kind of band that are crucial to the wellbeing of music in the UK. Where so many acts elicit mere passing shrugs of the shoulders as they toil away year after year, Losers are that once-in-a-year or more band that remind you why you fell in love with rock music in the first place, the kind of band that set pulses racing, heads bobbing, digits tapping. They're the kind of band that make you want to be in a band of your own. And in How To Ruin Other People's Futures they have the album that will propel them further and deeper than they, or even the bands or endeavours that the band's members – Tom Bellamy (Cooper Temple Clause), Paul Mullen (Yourcodenameis:milo, Young Legionnaire) and Eddy Temple Morris (celebrated DJ of XFM fame) – have been part of before, have ever been. Or that's what will happen if there's any justice.
Don't believe me? Just wait for the lift that comes in the fifth and sixth minutes of the previously quite pretty opener 'I Never Got To Say Goodbye'. It is, simply put, stunning. The kind of crescendo that usually finds its home in premier league post-rock, here exploding atop powerful synths and an exuberant, ebullient guitar solo. What a moment. If this was the only one on the album it would still be noteworthy. It is only the first of many.
'Chainsaw' should cause forests to quiver in fear. It is propelled by the kind of fuzz-laden bass groove that dreams are made of. This isn't music to analyse, it's music to experience, to inhabit. There's no let up, either. 'This Is a War' takes things in a more straightforwardly club-wards direction without losing any of the album's momentum or punch. Its breakdown is stupefying. 'The Not' slows things down slightly, but still features a sumptuous keys and bass moment in each of the choruses – the kind of chord change that makes 'muso'-types chin-stroke appreciatively.
The mid-section of 'Car Crash', 'Exit Plan' and '4 Months 2 Days' is as strong as any album released this year. On a lesser record. 'Car Crash' would be an out and out smash, but here it merely continues the penchant the band have for starting big and going bigger, utilising the best elements of their particular brand of synth rock alchemy to the full. 'Exit Plan' is the closest the album could be argued to have to a ballad, showcasing the strength of the vocal chemistry between all three of the members as synths and pianos interplay beautifully. Just when it seems about to take off, the song doesn't, being all the better for that. The third of this little triumvirate is Losers at their finest. A throbbing synth bass, layers and layers of guitars and synths and a pulsing vocal hook "I think I'll have to let it go". It'll get lodged in your head, promise. And then, when it all kicks off, and oh how it kicks off, the moment is simply euphoric.
In the record's latter moments, 'Red Rag' stands out, coming on all latter period Pure Reason Revolution in a driving finale.
On a ten-track album, it feels almost silly to have picked out eight songs as high points worthy of your consideration, but this is no ordinary album. Closer 'The Ruiner' builds to something which for most bands would be 'epic' but for Losers feels strangely normal before fading out to close the record on a subdued note, as Bellamy cries “I am the ruiner, take heart and spit it out...I am the wrecking ball". The first sung vocal of the album is the almost whispered "All my mistakes and all my regret lay deep in my heart today. All of my strength from the love that you gave has been taken away today.” From this it's easy to infer that this is not a happy or a joyful record, and it may not be. There's no doubt that sorrow lurks at the heart of what is going on here. That said, musically this feels like one of the most life-affirming albums of the year. It''s said that only the losers win. Let's hope that's the case this time.
8Haydon Spenceley's Score