Frontman Andy ‘Falco’ Falkous, on the crowdfunding page for Future of the Left‘s fifth album, describes it thusly: “Nasty and (for want of a better word) funky – like a machine having sex with its own shadow then giving the shadow some taxi money home and surprising it by actually owning and operating the taxi and driving to a plush hotel where it receives expensive bath salts and a complete CV/Resume makeover which results in a complete lifestyle change and, eventually, world domination.” Unfortunately, the album itself doesn’t do justice to this colourful evaluation.
While ‘The Peace & Truce…’ is certainly FOTL‘s most concise and focussed effort since their best album, ‘Travels with Myself and Another’ (2009), it lacks range and even in its short run-time can start to drag. The album misses the moments of contrast that made their previous offering, 2013’s ‘How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident’, such a satisfying experience, remaining at mid-tempo throughout and featuring few changes in dynamics. The band rarely break out of their familiar roles: bassist Julia Ruzicka lays the groundwork with her growling basslines, over which Falco adds jagged, dissonant guitar figures, while Jack Egglestone keeps things rumbling along with his herky-jerky drumming. This is a formula that has been serving Falco well since his days with FOTL‘s predecessor, cult heroes Mclusky. When this formula is at its best, such as in the menacing stomp of ‘Back When I Was Brilliant’, FOTL still have the power to grab the listener by the throat with their fuzzed-out riffs. But with little deviation from the established format, ‘The Peace & Truce…’ comes off as disappointingly safe for such an intelligent, inventive band.
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As always, the vocals are delivered in Falco‘s uniquely eccentric style, veering from a condescending sneer to a deranged howl. He tends towards the former slightly too often though, and at times comes across as too detached. Falco’s lyrics are still as acerbic and delightfully surrealist as ever: “A dead body in the boot of a Nova is the least of my problems,” he declares on ‘Running All Over the Wicket’, “as long as there is still room for the shopping”. Elsewhere, in the coda to ‘Reference Point Zero’, the throat-shredding refrain of “Shake, rattle and roll” is reminiscent of the “Danny Baker” chant at the end of Mclusky‘s ‘Dethink to Survive’ from their 2002 classic ‘Mclusky Do Dallas’, as electrifying as it is amusing.
‘The Peace & Truce…’ is still a quality album by a truly independent, hard-working band, and track-by-track there is very little to fault as the band continues to perfect its idiosyncratic style of cynical punk rock. But for a band with a back catalogue full of thrillingly daring rock music and a devoted cult following who have come to expected the unexpected, this album marks a sideways step for FOTL.
‘The Peace & Truce of Future of the Left’ is out April 8th on Prescriptions.
This Future of the Left article was written by Joe Turner, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Fraisia Dunn