New line-up, new label – but FOTL deliver familiar quality on this new EP.
Noel Gardner 2011-11-03
A six-track EP preceding an album due in early 2012, Polymers Are Forever is the first new material in over two years by brash, comedic Welsh rock quartet Future of the Left. This stretch has been forced upon them somewhat by label and line-up issues. They parted ways last year with 4AD, and have eventually been given shelter by Xtra Mile – once the home of Frank Turner’s Million Dead, who featured Julia Ruzicka, the newest FOTL member. This certainly isn’t the sound of a shaken band though: time away from the studio has seen the members dig further into their unclassifiable, noisy nook. It also means they’ve now been an active concern longer than McLusky, FOTL vocalist Andrew Falkous and drummer Jack Egglestone’s warmly recalled ex-band.
On Polymers Are Forever’s opening two songs, the title-track and With Apologies to Emily Pankhurst, the synthesiser that initially distinguished them from McLusky is more prominent than ever before, throwing out crunchy sci-fi distortion on the former and imitating the wild organs of 60s garage on the latter. While the EP is not a complete overhaul of the band’s sound – Falkous’ semi-comprehensible mini-stories are alternately spoken and yelled, with frequent backing vocals; the bouncy New Adventures could have slotted comfortably onto either of their first two albums – there’s an evident effort by FOTL here to avoid simply returning to what they know.
destroywhitchurch.com (Whitchurch is an inoffensive district of Cardiff, FOTL’s home city) is the longest song, at nearly six minutes, and moves raucously through styles. Beginning as a taut, punkish jangle, it builds to a noisy crescendo and then drops to the sort of uneasy low-key strum that is often associated with Slint. Falkous’ monologue displays a lyrical dexterity comparable to Nigel Blackwell of Half Man Half Biscuit, in that contempt for his subject matter is conveyed chiefly by mentions of cultural mediocrities (insurance salesmen; Honda Civics) rather than actual insults. This has been one of the vocalist’s primary attributes since McLusky – being ‘very British’ but not self-consciously so; taking absurdist snatches of phrase and making them earworm choruses – but Future of the Left are becoming ever more intriguing musically, to boot.