The Plot Against Common Sense unveiled Future of the Left's expanded lineup, minus longtime bassist Kelson Mathias and with new bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Julia Ruzicka and new guitarist/vocalist Jimmy Watkins. Any fears that a four-piece lineup would sap the originality or bite from the band's sound were unfounded: while early tastes of the album such as the Polymers Are Forever EP reaffirmed that the band's chunky riffs, caustic keyboards, and Jack Egglestone's remarkably creative yet economic drumming were all still in place, the rest of The Plot Against Common Sense reveals the revamped Future of the Left are just as committed to smart, angry, heavy rock as they always were. However, unlike the explosive ferocity of their previous album, Travels with Myself and Another, this time the group's attack is more of an enduring grind, with an almost mechanical precision on "Failed Olympic Bid" and a grim inevitability in "A Guide to Men"'s lumbering rhythm and claustrophobic synths. These knottier, denser snarls of sound underscore the frustration in Andy Falkous' words, and while being surrounded by a confederacy of dunces has inspired him since his Mclusky days, his lyrics have rarely been sharper or funnier. "I have seen into the future/Everyone is slightly older," he deadpans on "Cosmo's Ladder," and the way he snarls "Now we're talking/At least, you're moving your mouth" gives the lie to "Camp Cappuccino"'s satirical bluster, but even the shouted "sha-la-la-la-la"s on "Notes on Achieving Orbit" are just as eloquent as any of his wordier lyrics. There's a feeling of impatience on The Plot Against Common Sense that leads Falkous and company to take a more literal approach than they have in the past as they rail against privilege ("Sorry Dad, I Was Late for the Riots"), rant about film studios cranking out franchises ad nauseum ("Robocop 4 -- Fuck Off Robocop"), and lay waste to the music industry's never-ending marketing opportunities in less than two minutes ("Sheena Is a T-Shirt Salesman"). These might be easy targets, but they're also ones with surprising longevity, which suggests that Future of the Left is onto something with that album title. The band devotes less time to the more melodic, searching side of its music that made Travels as poetic as it was fierce, although the soaring chorus on "Beneath the Waves an Ocean," on which Falkous sings "You're not just a punch line now/You're more than the end of something," offers a kernel of hope, or at least sympathy, while subtler songs such as "Anchor" and "I Am the Least of Your Problems" reaffirm that the band handles emotional wreckage as cleverly as it covers politics. The Plot Against Common Sense shows that Future of the Left are still fighting the good fight, even if the ranks have changed a bit.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares