Review Summary: We're all doomed. Deal with it
In a world gone mad there are many easy targets: the economy, weak governments, bloated consumerism, Sputnik’s users and much more besides. Andrew Falkous and his bandmates in both Future Of The Left (FotL) and his former group Mclusky have utilised abstract thought, words and instrumentation in an attempt to understand and convey their personal thoughts and the wider world around them. In other words, they’re clever people. People like this are misunderstood frequently and easily. Pitchfork squeezed out a typically piss-poor review of this record, the author displaying as much adherence to the concept of critical analysis as a dead wolf. He missed the point to an embarrassing degree. Indeed, he missed the point so much it drew a stinging rebuke from Falkous in the form of a blog post, to many people’s amusement.
…but with a record called The Plot Against Common Sense
, surely it’s asking to be analysed with an academic fervour? With tracks named “Sheena Is A T-Shirt Salesman”, “Failed Olympic Bid” and “Sorry Dad, I Was Late For The Riots” you’re putting your neck on the line and trying to pin down the counter culture zeitgeist, wrapping up a nation’s collective image and perceptions at that point in time. Right?
Well, erm, maybe. FotL have already stated on Twitter that “Sorry Dad, I Was Late For The Riots” isn’t about morons like Otis Ferry and Charlie Gilmour; white, dreadlocked and with a misguided sense of social justice. In essence, it’s as much about these people as “Arming Eritrea” from their last LP is about…well, arming Eritrea.
It makes this reviewing lark difficult for people like us. Sure, I could sit here and say something vague about how the bassline on “Beneath The Waves Of An Ocean” is superb in its simplicity and tone (which it really is). I could also sit here and say that “Sheena Is A T-Shirt Salesman” ‘is one of the most exciting and addictive songs I’ve heard for years’ (Oh…I just did). Certainly, it’s their most accessible record both musically and lyrically, and ideally the catalyst for wider recognition for a group that actually really, really, really deserve it. When you write review after review about bands and records you might not even care about, it’s hard to contain your excitement when a group with brains, steels and balls give you something to listen to. Over-excitement can lead to misinterpretation. Pitchfork’s reviewer was struck down with a case of cynicalbitterhackitis, so he’s the exception to the rule.
For example, their take on this record concluded that “Robocop 4 – F*ck Off Robocop” is a complete misfire and unfunny. Sure, music criticism is subjective but our man here has it plain WRONG. Billy Corgan being cast as a villain in a fictional Harry Potter film isn’t rubbish. It’s funny and scarily feasible. “Sheena Is A T-Shirt Salesman” is (has to be?) a barbed comment on the remorseless rape and desecration of punk’s corpse; Clash, Ramones and Pistols shirts now being worn by a bunch of Nathan Barleys, dribbling airhead fashionistas, who think “Blitzkrieg Bop” is a type of energy drink. “Camp Cappuccino” could
be about the proliferation of coffee culture that has so lazily slithered into our lives. Maybe it isn’t, but we wouldn’t begrudge Falkous the notion that is actually is.
…and this is what makes the album such an interesting document. We live in an age wherein reality frequently trumps satire. Instead of filing reports from an alternate universe, Falkous is now speaking from a mere parallel world. We can relate to these odes to madness, unease and frustration. We finally know what the hell he’s on about! That’s us! Forget your black metal and all that other bombastic crap, THIS is the real soundtrack to the apocalypse. It’s one that we’re all gratefully sliding towards slowly and perpetually.