Future of the Left formed in 2005 with Andrew Falkous, Jack Eggleston, and Kelson Mathias in Cardiff, Wales. Mathias later left the band, and Julia Ruzicka and Jimmy Watkins joined creating the current lineup. The first album of theirs I heard was The Plot Against Common Sense. The songs certainly stood out rather quickly. Falkous’s lyrics are witty, satirical, and most importantly (to me) relatable and meaningful.
Sheena is a T-Shirt Salesman for example is obviously a reference to the Ramones’ song Sheena is a Punk Rocker. The song really embodies the way I see Future of the Left and Falkous’s writing. To me, they represent a new form of punk that is emerging in my generation and one that is not painfully embarrassing or merely copying the past. As you could predict, this song talks about the commercialization of punk rock and probably the bands I am referring to who are painfully embarrassing. In the last stanza of the song Falkous writes, “This song is dedicated/To the merchandise manufacturers/Who made it possible/With their hard work, talent, application/And love of tote bags.” I didn’t realize how much I wanted to come across a band like this until I did. A band that recognizes that so many other bands are becoming businesses and focusing on the money as they let their music turn to (or remain) complete shit.
I cannot help but see the relation of this song and Falkous’s ideas to the Fugazi song Merchandise. The lyrics, “Merchandise keeps us in line/Common sense says it’s by design/What could a businessman ever want more/than to have us sucking in his store/We owe you nothing/You have no control/You are not what you own” are very much along the same lines as what Falkous writes. Merchandise and the perception of a band as more of a salable commodity than an artistic endeavor was definitely a problem during the time that Fugazi was together, but it seems as if it has become an even bigger problem today. This is not a rant against selling t-shirts and other sorts of merchandise, but it is difficult to deny the businesslike aspects of bands that engage in activities such as creating music videos for the purpose of drawing more attention to themselves and paying companies to shove their music under all sorts of people’s noses like college radio stations and people who are said to know what they are talking about when it comes to music. I see the transformation of a band (or any other artistic endeavor) into a business as a bad thing because businesses focus on what people demand, and art focuses on what is going on inside the mind of the artist. I also find it hard to believe that every single band that has produced music videos had a fundamental artistic vision and drive to do so and was not motivated by the desire for more money and attention.
I see Future of the Left as a band that could possibly be an inspiration for others who want to focus on the music and not impressing the right people or drawing a certain amount of attention. They certainly do focus on the music too. If they are an example of what is to come in this post-punk (there’s no decent name for it) genre, then I am very excited. Beneath the Waves an Ocean, on that same album, has a bass line like none I have ever heard before. As Falkous shouts, “You’ll never find peace with the name they gave you,” I always start pondering what he means and usually come to the conclusion that we must redefine ourselves and our surroundings if we are unhappy or frustrated with the current state of our experience. Goals in Slow Motion has another great bass line, and Notes on Achieving Orbit is trance-inducing.
These songs are all on the third album, and there is a new one that was recently released called How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident. I have finally heard it, and it sounds tremendously heavy in the best possible way. The first song, Bread Cheese Bow and Arrow, is a fantastic first song for an album and does a good job of getting the listener in the mood to keep listening for what will come next. The Male Gaze is such a pleasing song and also lyrically interesting. French Lessons stands out in that it is slow and quieter, while Singing of the Bonesaws is a beautiful public service announcement (with a killer bass line) with lines like, “I cannot identify the bloodied bodies of my loved ones/they were killed whilst watching a new television show/on the MTV network/one where Kim Kardashian is chased through woodland/by a giant bear wearing a mask which carries the visage/of recently deceased film director Michael Winner.” And also, “the production team behind the show all simultaneously/come to the same horrifying conclusion/They have wasted the precious gift of life which has been/given to them by science!/They start attacking themselves with the nearest available/objects, breaking off camera tripods to ram them bloodily/into each other’s eyes, climbing up the highest branches/of trees to fall face down onto the pulsing earth.” Maybe this is what will happen when those making reality television realize just what exactly they are doing. It is certainly amusing to contemplate, and I’m glad Falkous is having these idealistic visions of the future.
I agree heartily with what this band has to say, and I am a huge fan of the way they choose to say it. I hope to come across many more bands that are still performing today who are just as original and who have equally important ideas to convey to those willing to listen. My only real negative thought is that I have not seen them live yet. If the opportunity ever arises, I will not hesitate to be there.