10 Pool Valley
Let’s say Mark E Smith has an illegitimate son; there would be no better candidate for the honour than Andy Falkous. Consider the similarities: both are truculent, outspoken, intelligent, difficult, master wordsmiths, musically familiar yet individual, bluntly honest and adored by their respective cults. Hell, their taste in wives extends to having them in the band. Falkous isn’t a Smith devotee, far from it, Future of The Left sound nothing like the Fall, but he is the same kind of often overlooked, frustrated genius.
Future of The Left emerged a year after the dissolution of Falkous’s former band – cult heroes mclusky – in 2006. A combination of mclusky members – drummer Jack Eggleston tagging along – and bassist Kelson from fellow Welsh crackpots Jarcrew. Across their first two records, Curses and Travels with Myself and Another, the story was similar: playing heavy alt-rock with a transatlantic influence, too intense for the NME crowd and too erudite for the Kerrang! readers. Support from record label 4AD was virtually non-existent, a fact that Falkous bemoans to this day. There remains a sneaking suspicion with the right support and American accents, they’d be millionaires.
Personnel changes before third album The Plot Against Common Sense revitalized the band. Kelson departed and was replaced by Julia Ruzicka, and the band augmented by second guitarist Jimmy Watkins. They used the opportunity to experiment, producing the most interesting album of their career, making much greater use of rudimentary synthesizer and backing vocals that brought welcome melody to proceedings. Live, they were playing the shows of their lives, the extra member meaning that Falkous was freer to be the livewire, in-your-face front man he had always wanted to be. It doesn’t hurt that the man could probably have made it as a standup comic.
Last year’s How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident continued their upward trajectory. Self-released; it was at the same time the most brutal and melodic album of the band’s career, and live they’ve continued to be reliably excellent. The band now have enough material to fill two shows and that makes for some pleasant surprises, including the odd mclusky number. The album also received a deserved nomination for Drowned In Sound’s Mercury alternative, the Neptune.