Jeff Moody

FOTL’s bold “Plot Against Common Sense”

Jeff Moody calls Future of the Left's "The Plot Against Common Sense" the band's "most adventurous and diverse recording to date."

By - Jun 16th, 2012 04:00 am

When I’m not listening to the brand new music I’m writing about, I’m usually listening to either Mclusky and/or Future Of The Left. What this means is I am often absorbing the ideas, both lyrically and musically, of Andrew Falkous. I love the Falkous method of delivering vibrant melodies with bare-fanged savagery at deafening volumes. I love his uncompromising, anti-everything worldview, one that is so often graced by snarling metaphors that make my angular gyrus pulsate in response.

When I am asked “Who is the most important figure in rock music of the past decade?” I point to Jack White because his artistic and commercial accomplishments are undeniably staggering, but there is another…a demolition man gleefully blowing up the traditionalist tendencies that people like White champion, and his name is Andrew Falkous.

Late last year I wrote about Future Of The Left’s eepee Polymers Are Forever and was relieved to find that FOTL 2.0 was just fine without Kelson Mathias, FOTL 1.0’s gorilla-pawed bassist. I was openly worried that Julia Ruzicka (A GIRL, but not only that, a PRETTY GIRL) would not be up to the task of churning out rhythm next to a powerhouse drummer like Jack Egglestone. I also had no idea who the new guy on second guitar was.

My fears were stupid, if not somewhat sexist. Ruzicka doesn’t wield her axe like a baseball bat in the menacing way Mathias did, but she pulverizes her bass lines just the same. Ruzicka and Egglestone are the backbone of the band. The real difference is made by new second guitar guy Jimmy Watkins. All the power is there, but if you were wondering how so many of these songs came to be driven primarily by keyboard, (I think) it may have something to do with FOTL 2.0 being a foursome, with Watkins freeing up Falkous to experiment a bit more with synthesized melody. The Plot Against Common Sense does not walk up and punch you straight in the face with guitars (Well, “Sheena Is A T-Shirt Saleman” does at the start, actually) like so many Mclusky and FOTL records did in the past, and that’s led to some grumbling among FOTL’s hardcore contingent. Instead, The Plot Against Common Sense grows on you, and quick.

“Sheena” burns the house down immediately, and the band builds the record back up in the tracks that follow. “Failed Olympic Bid” and “Beneath The Waves An Ocean” are both as unremitting as a low pressure system, with Ruzicka unloading earth-moving bass lines throughout. She brings the slinky hop to the goofy, spooky “Cosmo’s Ladder,” where Falkous obviously has a ball playing a very high-pitched synth. It’s the most danceable track about the shagginess of aging you’ve ever heard, and it’s the track that gives the elpee its initial kick into true, unflinching weirdness. “Polymers Are Forever” (the single holdover from the excellent eepee of the same name) has a very odd cadence, but the chant sticks. “Camp Cappuccino” starts off loud and spastic, with Falkous spouting off like Frank T.J. Mackie on meth, before the track devolves into a bizarre chorus of ape-like sounds and well placed human howling. It’s insane and awesome. “Rubber Animals” is the band’s Devo moment. Believe it.

Is this the best FOTL record yet? I’d say no. Track for track, Travels with Myself And Another was about as close to perfect as it gets, but this is, without a doubt, their most adventurous and diverse recording to date, and I can’t think of a record I’ve enjoyed more this year.

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