Review Summary: A biting dissection of modern society and popular culture.
Cardiff-based Future Of The Left have set themselves an immensely high standard to live up to with 2009's impeccable Travels With Myself And Another
. The album, which overflew with wretched, expertly executed noise rock, provided a rapid adrenaline boost in the increasingly stagnant rock scene. The group found the ideal balance between raw energy and a healthy dose of hooks making their distinct style both punishing and undeniably infectious. Fast forward to 2012 which showcases Future Of The Left as a totally different band. Bassist Kelson Mathias' pummelling bass lines have been replaced by Julia Ruzicka's throbbing play, while Jimmy Watkins introduces more melody and texture into the act's trademark buzz saw tone of guitars. These two new members complement the combative drumming of Jack Egglestone and routinely furious vocals of Andrew “Falco” Falkous bringing a new layer to the sound of an already mature band.
While clearly borrowing plenty of aesthetics from the band's previous two discs, The Plot Against Common Sense
holds its influences all over the place trading a monolithic noise rock onslaught into an impressively diverse presentation. Thus, angular assault of “Sheena is a T-shirt Salesman” and “Camp Cappuccino” is merged with industrialized playfulness of synthesizers-laden “Failed Olympic Bid” and danceable “Cosmo's Ladder.” The quartet also fully embraces their pop sensibilities packing the majority of songs with some truly deranged hooks. Mellowed-out “City Of Exploded Children” revolves around a glorious folk melody and chanting vocals to startling effect, while equally entertaining “Goals In Slow Motion” is a splendidly jaded attempt at an indie rock anthem. Elsewhere, the act's increasingly evident passion for minimalist electronica results in a genuinely disturbing, hissing keys-laden tune in “A Guide To Men.”
On top of this newly acquired musical flexibility, there are brilliantly caustic lyrics written by Falco who has a knack for capturing the most lamentable aspects of popular culture and emotionally substandard lives of others in an ostentatiously hilarious, sarcastic manner. He aptly observes that Sheena, who was once considered a symbol of punk rock, is reduced to a meaningless slogan now; rages against shallow celebrity culture and even takes a stab at trend-obsessed fashion magazine's readership (“Cosmo's Ladder”). Infectiously groovy “Sorry Dad, I Was Late For The Riots” deals with trustafarians posing as anarchists, whereas discordant “Robocop 4: *** Off Robocop” is a sardonic spin on various film franchises boasting such peculiar lines as: at least Harry Potter has a proper story/in the sense that the characters crave an ending/if (only) to release poor Billy Corgan/from his role as the titular character's nemesis
. As the record progresses, the subject matter gets arguably more serious. Aside from the suggestion that the world might be ruled by unholy emperor penguins
, “A Guide To Men” serves as a scathing critique of modern civilization concluded bluntly: this is a song about common sense folded backwards into itself.
Even when his outcome may be bitter in the end, Falco never ceases to ingrain all songs with enough spiteful humour and surreal urban poetry to make them both engrossing and relatable. Perhaps even more than on his previous endeavours with much loved McLusky, he emerges here as a singular voice of generation providing as much food for thought in his timely social observations as in the music itself. Although The Plot Against Common Sense
may not be as musically focused as its predecessor, it certainly makes the most of its sheer word wizardry on display. This, being combined with daring, frequently dissonant arrangements, makes for a unique album that will definitely rank among the best rock releases of the year.