Future Of The Left - The Plot Against Common Sense

Mission accomplished, guys.

Label: PIAS

Rating: 9

Cardiff’s finest seem to have been on a quest to become the most idiosyncratic band in the world for some years now. After two albums of unhinged, no-holds-barred rock ‘n’ rage, the sound of Andy Falkous and co. has become theirs and theirs alone, a stomping, militaristic assault that’s always been as funny as it was terrifying. The Dennis Hoppers of music. But after a change of line-up and an introductory EP that hinted at new developments, Future Of The Left’s third album suggests that they’re on a new hunt altogether, this time to take other artists’ sounds rather than cultivate their own.

Opener ‘Sheena Is A T-Shirt Salesman’ might set that stall out most obviously, but it’s in the songs that follow it that this magpie style becomes clear. ‘Cosmo’s Ladder’ augments the happy return of the creeping keys ‘n’ bass sound we haven’t heard fully since ‘Curses’ with Orange Juice guitar jangles, ‘Goals In Slow Motion’ could be early Feeder if they’d had a major psychotic breakdown and ‘Robocop 4 - Fuck Off Robocop’ (which may be the greatest song title of all time) is probably the sound of the songs Captain Beefheart is making wherever he is now.

Yet, despite the constant references, this still sounds like only Future Of The Left could have made it. Perhaps it’s Falkous’ uniquely brilliant take on lyrical delivery, alternating between evisceratory screams and dark whispers as his own brand of beatdown poetry requires. Perhaps it’s the way every sonic suggestion is part of a wider whole – ‘Beneath The Waves An Ocean’’s use of the sort of overwrought melodic guitar last seen in an Avenged Sevenfold anthem is subsumed by two-tone crunches whilst ‘Sorry Dad, I Was Late For The Riots’ shimmers with math-rock phrases even as it becomes the band’s most self-conscious pop song.

Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because Future Of The Left have finally completed their original quest. Not only do they not sound like anyone else, no-one else can sound like them. It’s an odd thing to say about a band quite as aggressive about their outsider status, but it’s entirely possible that by proving they can make anything their own, they’ve become one of Britain’s best bands. Mission accomplished, guys.