Future of the Left

Travels with Myself and Another

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If Future of the Left's debut album, Curses, initially sounded like a retread of two-thirds of the band's work as Mclusky, it feels like a dress rehearsal for the power they unleash on Travels with Myself and Another. While there are plenty of songs that uphold the traditions of FOTL's previous incarnation and Curses -- "I Am Civil Service" and "Land of My Formers"' self-aware studies in isolation and violence are still too impassioned, too heavy to be merely acerbic, and Andy Falkous still channels irony and fury through his clipped vocals and raspy screams -- the band's jagged din sounds fuller and more muscular (if a shade less frenetic) than before. They spend just as much time expanding their music as they do underscoring its strengths: "The Hope That House Built" puts their fondness for slogans for lost causes and failed ideals to a bracing oompah beat and a layered coda; "Yin/Post-Yin"'s keyboard stabs and bouncy guitar reveal a more overtly playful side to Future of the Left than Mclusky ever showed. The band's sardonic storytelling is also at a peak, especially on "Throwing Bricks at Trains," the tale of two military officers who might be Wild West terrorists (and opens with the attention-getting line "Slight! Bowel movements!"). Everyday evil is a common theme on Travels with Myself and Another, whether it's the hilariously pragmatic Satanist of "You Need Satan More Than He Needs You" or the all-pervasive materialism of "Drink Nike," the only song from the stopgap live album Last Night I Saved Her from Vampires to make the cut here. That commitment to economy makes "Lapsed Catholics" that much more surprising and effective an end to Travels with Myself and Another: over a relatively epic four minutes, the band rails against Rupert Murdoch; praises the old-school, pitchfork-wielding Devil; and drops food for thought like "the problem with these people is that they understand their vices, not their faults" as the music moves from contemplative acoustics to blasting fury. And, on top of all that, it's also a love song. Travels with Myself and Another distinguishes Future of the Left from Mclusky without completely severing ties, and proves they're a band that can keep post-hardcore exciting with righteous anger and merciless wit.

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