Slow Music Review: Future of the Left – Curses

So the Mercury nominees are out again; twelve lucky souls briefly pushed in front of the tame listening public in a futile attempt to work out which is best. It’s ugly. It’s always been ugly. Music competitions are by their very nature pointless; being overly dependent on either the temporal mood of the judge or how many friends the act managed to corral at the right time. I speak from experience; my band made it to the final of a battle of the bands by plying only two gigs, not because we were good but because we filled the place with our school mates. “This is all part of it” I hear you cry, “Manage your social media better”. Oh do be quiet, the truth is that any competition trying to quantify the aesthetics of one song against another misses the point completely. There are no winners. We all struggle and we all fail repeatedly, but in doing so create such interesting sounds for the future public to stumble on. The problem is that through competitions we expect logic and fairness in how it all fits together; we hope that the harder we work the further up the ladder we move. This is the mood I find myself in; futile and inert. The best mood to listen to anger, noise and the audible equivalent of a file down the throat.

Future of the Left formed out of the embers of the alternative/electro/noise punks of Mclusky and Jarcrew. If you don’t know them already then look them up, because this isn’t a time for biographies. Biographies kill the power of the thing. You need to know that they make a sound like few others. The neutered press bandy the word ‘raw’ around until it has no meaning, a catch-all word to place one particular song apart from another, more poppy song. But Curses is a raw album, all angles and corners and barely constrained fuzz pedals. The nuance behind the anger creates a brilliantly cathartic listening experience. Take the genuinely tortured anguish of ‘The Lord Hates A Coward‘; it doesn’t go for the killing blow, it just methodically and relentlessly strips the layers of resolve until we are left as nerve ends. By the time the album switches gear with ‘Plague Of Onces‘ we are zombified and compliant. To this day I have an unfortunate habit of screaming ‘Saint Caroline, Yes’ when stressed. From this point on I am putty. A mere waif battered time and time again because I like it.

The real joy of this album is in how it takes it’s innate political anger and frustration as a theme to be varied. Of all the songs on this album, the one that personally sticks the most is ‘Suddenly It’s A Folk Song‘. A song with lyrics filled with a seething impressionist narrative resolutely in the major and led by a smoothly tonal bass progression. On the surface it is markedly different from earlier tracks, however the anger bubbling beneath keeps it defiantly in the same catharsis. The gloriously petulant enunciation at the song’s close is the exact same I use when demolishing the paper arguments of my siblings. That sheer blind rage and red eyed destruction we save for family. Because we care. There is such familial care in the rage found here and all of it like hot coals under my eyelids.

But Curses wouldn’t get a Mercury nomination. It’s too honest and lacks the cynical desire to be judged. It is what it is. Ignoring the ladder does wonders for the soul. Possibly. Maybe. But It’s certainly put my desires into perspective and it’s bleached my intentions. I can relax for the first time surrounded by the anger. Such bliss.

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