Prescriptions – October 21st
It’s the sound of a band smart enough to experiment while maintaining the brutal essence of what makes them so thrilling.
It’s says a lot about Future of the Left’s singular vision that, within five hours of announcing they were going to ask fans to help finance their new album through Pledge Music, they’d already reached 100% of the money they needed.
The resultant record, How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident, is a brilliantly strange beast. A journey further into Falco’s mind, taking lyrical twists and turns into surreal and unhinged waters. ‘Singing of the Bonesaws’, for example, sees him adopt the voice of a 1950s BBC newsreader as, over buzzsaw guitars, he tackles modern pop culture through a story that takes in the music industry (‘You have confused excitement with the fear of missing out’), a bear and Daniel Day Lewis. It’s brilliant.
There are other songs that deal directly with the industry too – there’s a handy clue in the name of ‘How to spot a record company’. This is the first album released on their Prescriptions record label and that complete control over how their music is released seems to have given them the opportunity to push ideas and play around with sounds and voices. Sonically it feels completely uncompromised, alluringly abrasive and featuring less keyboard than The Plot Against Common Sense – and it is by far and away the most diverse set of songs they’ve released. There’s even a love song (of sorts).
It’s also the most they’ve sounded like a band. Julia’s bass and Jack’s drumming are as inventive as they are driving, while Jimmy Watkins’ imaginative guitar lines add muscle. It means it’s an album that, more than any of the band’s previous records, works as one piece, ebbing and flowing, beating you over the head and then getting you to fistpump.
There are some straight up crunching rock songs: the handclaps of ‘Things To Say To Friendly Policemen’, the bouncing ‘The Real Meaning of Christmas’ and the brilliantly titled ‘Johnny Borrell Afterlife’ are as catchy as swine flu.
The songs which play with structure and vocal styles don’t all work but ‘French Lessons’ is a touching and unique take on love (and how it doesn’t have to be the death knell of the rest of your life) while the mixture of paranoid piano and laughter on ‘Something Happened’ makes for an enthralling cocktail.
It ends with the 5am-in-a-wild-west bar of ‘Why aren’t I going to hell?’ – Falco in a cowboy hat at the end of the bar and glugging from a bottle of whisky and singing “I’ve slept with the beasts of the far flung east”.
As an album it’s a vital statement from a band that deserve more than they’ve been given. It’s the sound of a band comfortable with themselves but not with what’s happening in the world around them, able to see the ludicrous and rail against it in hilarious and intelligent ways. It’s the sound of a band smart enough to experiment while maintaining the brutal essence of what makes them so thrilling. It’s the sound of a band who are more than big and clever enough to go it alone.