Future of the Left Travels With Myself and Another

[4AD; 2009]

Rating: 4.5/5

Styles: post-hardcore, alternative
Others: bands that Steve Albini recorded

Mclusky's first two records were antidotes to everything twee about indie rock in the early ’00s. Packed with biliousness and hilariously over-the-top spite, they were manna to a particular milieu: the male cynic, the angry and backwardly rockist, and the people too irony-damaged to get with the program. I hear Christgau tut-tutting as I write this paragraph. I imagine him looking up at the positive rating and shaking his head. Goddamn that guy.

Anyway, you get the impression Andy Falkous started to feel strangled by that appointed role, because his next two -- Mclusky's finale, and Future of the Left's debut -- swap rage for grit and personal gripes for a wider, more encompassing vision of all that's fucked. And while both suffered from significant snags (failed experiments and filler, respectively), it's now clear that this arc was headed somewhere after all.

Travels With Myself and Another is the best thing this crew has ever made. It's got all you could ask for: hooks, riffs, volume, wordplay, razor-sharp absurdity, and Jack Egglestone's incomparable power drumming. Hell, there's no reason to neglect bassist Kelson Mathias either, whose metallic complexity pushes Future of the Left out of punk rock's comfort zone and into someplace freer and a lot more overtly musical.

Meanwhile, Falkous is in rare form, lobbing grenades left and right, and at dinosaurs also. It's always hard deciphering his flow, of course, and without printed lyrics I'm hedging all bets. But "The Hope That House Built" sounds like an anthem to the banking crash, and "Throwing Bricks at Trains" would be an excellent piss-take on a bitter, washed-up radical if it were anything like that at all.

Travels crosses so many streams it's a wonder we haven't all incinerated. There's noise-pop, crunchy new wave, layered experimentalism, heavy metal stomp, speedy post-hardcore -- damn near everything in the Albini spectrum gets blended up here. I could continue writing adjectives for nine more paragraphs, but at 33 minutes, it'd take you less time to find out for yourself.

1. Arming Eritrea
2. Chin Music
3. The Hope That House Built
4. Throwing Bricks At Trains
5. I Am Civil Service
6. Land Of My Formers
7. You Need Satan More Than He Needs You
8. That Damned Fly
9. Stand By Your Manatee
10. Yin / Post-Yin
11. Drink Nike
12. Lapsed Catholics

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