As heir apparent to a noisy, sarcastic, under-populated kingdom—The Jesus Lizard didn’t exactly leave a huge commercial hole in the music world—Future Of The Left probably has limited appeal. But the British band, led by former Mclusky-frontman Andrew Falkous, has quietly released three fantastically loud, surly albums in the last five years. The Plot Against Common Sense has two tough acts to follow: 2007’s Curses and 2009’s Travels With Myself And Another alchemized sarcasm into terrifically catchy rock songs that were unafraid to be funny and ugly. It’s a neat trick, but a tough one to pull off.
Plot smoothes some edges and makes others more ragged, but the songs, shaped by the sharp guitars and martial drumming, are some of the strongest Falkous has ever written. Whether he’s attacking Trustafarians (“Sorry Dad, I Was Late For The Riots”) or considering the environmental impact of plastics (“Polymers Are Forever”), Falkous strikes the right balance of aggressive and catchy. “Goals In Slow Motion” might be the most musically straightforward thing FOTL has ever done—squint and you could hear it on commercial radio—but it’s juxtaposed with the sinister, incredible “Beneath The Waves An Ocean,” whose chorus (“no way you’ll ever find peace with the name they gave you”) is more hissed than sung.
This isn’t to say any of this is particularly difficult to hear: FOTL doesn’t make unlistenable tech metal, but rather the sort of aggressive, pop-indebted hard rock that’s hard to come by at the moment. “Robocop 4 - Fuck Off Robocop” brings all of the key elements together. There’s a wicked sense of humor, including a plot synopsis for Pirates Of The Caribbean 47 (“Johnny Depp stars as the robot parrot who loses his wife in a game of poker and tries to win her back with hilarious consequences!”). There’s an intro that’s as musically intense as the band gets, followed by a shout-along, cathartic second half. Falkous seems to understand that all of this stuff is simultaneously ridiculous and important, and his gut reaction is to laugh loud and rail against it. The resulting sound, at the moment anyway, belongs almost solely to him and his band.