For those who weren't aware, Future of the Left formed in 2005 from the ashes of two Welsh based bands--McLusky and Jarcrew. For me, that was as much as I knew about the band until Polymers Are Forever, their latest offering and first since they recently joined Xtra Mile Records, was released.
A six-track EP which precedes a full length due out in 2012, this release displays a unique and diverse approach to music, with the whole "quiet and loud" approach being used to good effect throughout. Opening track "Polymers Are Forever" features a combination of big guitars and some basic, but effective, old school-sounding synth work. Initially coming across like a malevolent version of They Might Be Giants, it soon becomes apparent that this Cardiff-based outfit is intent on messing with both mind and ears as nothing is straightforward, as they exist in world where melody and discord are equal bedfellows.
Added to this is a weird take on the world, as featured in the lyrics, and the result is something that you'd imagine Steve Albini would be pleased to have had a hand in. Although a number of influences come through, the one that is to the foremost of my mind is the French-based band, Warehouse. The similarity might be down to that band featuring a displaced Cardiffian, Dave Alderman, whose take on music has evolved over the years from a more standard punk rock sound (Soldier Dolls), to a very much Big Black-influenced approach (Slowjam), ending up with his current project, Warehouse, which does contain many similarities to Future of the Left, coming as they do from a slightly left field position in what they're doing.
The intriguing part of the attitude towards music taken by Future of the Left is that where some bands try to be clever, often sounding contrived/forced and lacking direction, the songs on this EP come across clearly as distinct pieces of work, each separate from the other, without losing any of the intricacy each possesses. There is no sense of pushing boundaries just for the sake of it, where often the end result is messy but here everything seems to fit in neatly even when it sounds as if one part is battling intensely against another. Additionally there is something almost, worryingly, pleasant about the vocals at times, which are much at odds with some of the lyrics, where the content highlights a world full of disturbing and/or weird images ("With Apologies to Emily Pankhurst" and "New Adventures" being prime examples). There is definitely a lot going on during this release and one listen just leads to many more to help getting your head around it all.
Future of the Left is edgy and fun. Some of the lyrics here really do bring a smile to my face ("Will you share your helicopter pad with Sweden!") whilst others have the ability to make me shudder a bit (the whole of "With Apologies to Emily Pankhurst" for example), so it's good to go from one extreme to another in 20 minutes.
If you are like me, you'll probably find it mildly amusing that if you actually plug the title of the last track "destroywhitchurch.com" into your Internet search bar, you're taken to a website entitled "Save Whitchurch" (Whitchurch being a suburb of Cardiff) which is campaigning to save the existence of a school in that area. On the other hand, you might not care!
I'm now looking forward to the album, The Plot Against Common Sense.