I discovered mclusky relatively late, courtesy of the personal recommendation of Shellac (who invited mclusky to play as part of the “Director’s CutATP festival in March 2004). I was immediately hooked on their snarling punkrock sound, the savagely witty lyrics and propulsive rhythms combining into something akin to a funnier, harder, err… Welsh-er Pixies. So it was hugely disappointing to learn of their break-up less than a year later, tensions between guitarist/vocalist Andy “Falco” Falkous and bassist Jon Chapple apparently escalating to a point of no return. However, mclusky’s parting words of “there’ll be more music soon, from all of us” was a comfort (although I knew then that sides would have to be taken: there was something about Chapple that really rubbed me up the wrong way, so it was always going to be Falco’s post-mclusky project that I’d gravitate towards).

Cue forward about 18 months and Falco, mclusky drummer Jack Egglestone and bassist/vocalist Kelson Mathias (ex-Jarcrew) emerge fully-formed as Future Of The Left, playing shows around the UK, the sound mirroring Falco’s new lean, muscular appearance. Having caught their first (I think) London show back in September 2006 and then seeing them several times since, it has been awesome observing this already-great band in both genesis and evolution. Future Of The Left inevitably draw comparisons to Shellac, not because they’re a pale imitation nor are they wannabe’s, but because they have the same immaculate mastery of dynamics, three men in complete control of their instruments, acutely aware that less is more when it comes to punkrock impact, and not afraid to let their collective sense of humour cut through the abrasive sound.

Future Of The Left - live at the Camden Barfly (06-06-2007)

Their most recent performance was at the Camden Barfly on 06 June, in support of Watford punks Gallows and as part of a Xfm “X-posure” showcase hosted by DJ John Kennedy. Following Kennedy’s introduction, they launch without fanfare into the crunching “The Lord Hates A Coward”. The refrain of “violence she solved everything” and the “if you wanna press press us” bravado highlights a key difference between Future Of The Left and mclusky: FOTL are meaner, more vicious, even less likely to suffer fools. And I don’t know what “she’s got a lot of pickled onions / hanging from her thighs” means but it sounds dirty.

Falco, Future Of The Left - live at the Camden Barfly (06-06-2007)The band power through “Plague Of Onces” and “Fingers Become Thumbs” (“And then the tale took a tall turn: the Devil Thumb made a man a slave!”), Kelson’s phat bass sound threatening to tear the Barfly’s crappy PA a new one. Falco then switches to the Roland Juno-60 for “Manchasm”, FOTL sounding infinitely better than a keyboard hair band has any right to (and you thought I wasn’t going to mention the hair…). Falco back on guitar, battle-lines are drawn in “Fuck The Countryside Alliance” (“you take the A-roads / and we’ll have the towns”), its loping bassline recalling Shellac’s “Didn’t We Deserve A Look At You The Way You Really Are.”

Next up is “Small Bones Small Bodies”, once upon a time ‘projected single #2’ but currently benched – hopefully it gets its release soon though, because it’s a propulsive piece of punk funkery entirely deserving of its very own slab of virgin dye-blackened vinyl. Falco returns to the keyboard for “Suddenly It’s A Folk Song”, which is caustic yet catchy, existing in an alternate reality where Punk wanted to get its leg over on New Romanticism rather than kick its head in. (Shouldn’t be long before FOTL joins this illustrious list, which if alphabetised would put them between Flock Of Seagulls and Howard Jones…). New song “How Green Were The Nazis?” was scheduled to make its debut but must’ve got the jitters, so “My Gymnastic Past” follows, its angry bee riff giving way (wave?) to vocal acrobatics from Falco and Kelson while Jack builds the beat to a crescendo.

All too soon ‘it’s the last song’ (that’s for you Jack), and new single, “Adeadenemyalwayssmellsgood”, which starts with the Rawhide-like refrain of “Roll on, roll on, roll on” before the guitars launch in with a kick to the guts and Jack beats seven shades of shit out of his skins. The song switchs effortlessly through several tempo changes, always managing to remain both incredibly hard and funky at the same time. The Barfly is a shitty-sounding room, but Jack’s cavernous pounding beats, Kelson’s knee-in-the-nuts bass and Falco’s razor-sharp riffs overcome any deficiencies in the live mix. Future Of The Left just rock too godamn hard to let anything stand in their way.

Future Of The Left - live at the Camden Barfly (06-06-2007)

The album is sadly too far away (I think Falco said October…).

Setlist: Future Of The Left @ Camden Barfly, London
(06 June 2007)

The Lord Hates A Coward
Plague Of Onces
Fingers Become Thumbs
Fuck The Countryside Alliance
Small Bones Small Bodies
Suddenly It’s A Folk Song
My Gymnastic Past

Here are the first three songs of the set, which were broadcast on John Kennedy‘s “X-posure” radio show on Xfm shortly after the gig.

Future Of The Left – The Lord Hates A Coward (live at the Camden Barfly)

Future Of The Left – Plague Of Onces (live at the Camden Barfly)

Future Of The Left – Fingers Become Thumbs (live at the Camden Barfly)

As should be expected from someone whose lyrics can strip paint off a car at forty paces and reduce common or garden idiots to sickly masses of bubbling adipose tissue, Falco displays a mean turn of phrase when it comes to the written word – check out his occasional MySpace blog postings here. More songs at MySpace and at mp3.com (where the band were filmed performing live at The Off Center whilst in Austin, Texas for the SXSW festival).

And here ends what was nothing more than a thinly-veiled commentary of lust and envy directed at Falco’s handsome head of hair…