Review Summary: Straightforward in its approach and endlessly listenable, "Travels with Myself and Another" is without any trace of doubt the most refreshing noise rock release of the year.
Future Of The Left is where two-thirds of the cult Welsh band, McLusky picked up after the group’s breakup. Singer/guitarist Andy “Falco” Falkous and drummer Jack Eggleston are back along with the new member Kelson Mathias (Jarcrew), who shares singing and bass/synth duties with Falco. "Travels With Myself and Another" is their second full-length album following shamefully underappreciated "Curses". While "Curses" can be regarded as a transient effort shifting between a noise rock of McLusky and the new groovier and more melodic approach, "Travels..." clearly defines the style of the band. Make no mistake about it. This is still angry rock, yet the band's considerable skills in blending pop hooks with an uncompromising vision and a sick sense of humor are prominent here.
This is an extremely tight record. Barely hitting 33-minute mark, the album contains 12 tracks with not even one filler or a single redundant note. Most frequently, the traditional song structure is broken at the expense of more trippy, surprising songwriting taking the listener to the most unexpected places. Take the opener "Arming Eritrea" in which a catchy chant backed by killer rhythm section builds to an anthemic climax. In "Chin Music" heavily distorted bass riff works as a driving force. Often, the drums are so mechanically precise that one has a feeling that they're listening to a demented rock military band. Contrary to the rhythm section, the guitarwork is simple, yet always well-harmonized and crunchy throughout. A muscualr riff in "I Am Civil Service" serves as the best example. Falco's affection for synths is also distinctive, providing many unconventional tonal shifts (playful "Yin/Post-Yin"). The use of synths might not be noticeable right away as they are as heavily overdriven as guitars. Still, they help to create the thick wall of sound in such amazing offbeat masterworks as "Throwing Bricks at Trains" and "You Need Satan More Than He Needs You".
What separates "Travels..." from Future Of The Left's peers is the use of obscenly catchy vocal harmonies. Falco experiments with them to a greater extent, implementing seemingly awkward vocal lines that superbly interact with intense screaming even in the loudest songs. This is where the power of this album lies. The efficient harsh playing combined with a great sense of melody make for an incredibly addictive listen. There are even moments that hearken back to traditional rock'n'roll with their danceable grooves.
Future Of The Left have never taken themselves too seriously. Andy Falkous has a constant desire to entertain listeners. Never infantile, his lyrics are often silly relying on the abstract type of humour and clever wordplay. Drolling "You Need Satan More Than He Needs You" is the highllight featuring lyrics about a Satan worshipper struggling with prosaic things like hiring a proper babysitter or finding love in the hilarious line "what kind of orgy leaves a sense of deeper love". Falco is also very observant and ironic singing such lines as: "There must be a logic behind a madness, if it's financial then it's deeply flawed" in the shrewd critique of corporate thinking of "The Damned Fly". Sometimes, he even gets profound as the ending of "Throwing Bricks at Trains" signifies: "The bricks, they are just sad reminders of former glories, though they are barely more than stories ..."
Falco and Co. prove that it's possible to depend on the old noise rock patterns without sacrificing identity or sounding generic. Straightforward in its approach and endlessly listenable, "Travels with Myself and Another" is without any trace of doubt the most refreshing rock release of the year. It's exciting, unapologetic, ballsy and most of all fearlessly mad. It's all meat and no bones.