Future Of The Left – How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident (Prescriptions)

Only a year since their last release, the Cardiff four-piece return to give the people exactly what they want

Released Oct 21st, 2013 via Prescriptions / By Richard Kemp
Future Of The Left – How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident (Prescriptions) There are those that have something to say and there are those that will get up from their velour-clad armchairs and actually say it – and, if there's one thing to note about Cardiff’s post-hardcore noise-rockers Future Of The Left, it's that they do not mince their words. On the release notes for their latest record, they state simply: “if you are alive and even vaguely in love with the idea of rock music being more than an ersatz lifestyle choice then it is clearly their best album yet.”

Of course, such bluntness should not come as a surprise from the same band that only last year brought us The Plot Against Common Sense, a firm contender for record of 2012 according to anyone with a working pair of ears and a conscience. Twelve months and one in-band wedding later (singer/guitarist Andy Falkous and bassist Julia Ruzicka married in July 2013), and the prolific fourpiece have released another full-length.

The band lost their label following their 2012 release and, in response, decided to start their own: Prescriptions Music. Still, money had to come from somewhere. In FOTL’s case, although they had been left out to sea without so much as a rubber ring, they called out for help anyway and the community responded. The band used Pledgemusic to crowdfund the record and reached their proposed target in less than five hours.

How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident picks up almost exactly where The Plot… left off, playing out like that dream where you wake up one morning and the world has finally come to an end. The grumbling burps from Ruzicka's meaty bass on opener ‘Bread, Cheese, Bow and Arrow’, juxtaposed with great sawing guitar lines that all but lacerate your eardrums, conjure visions of Schwarzenegger’s Terminator blazing through scorched city streets to flip over your car and ram a shotgun down your throat.

‘Donny On The Decks’ is equally unnerving. A whirlwind of crazy clown time, gang chants appear out of the muted darkness like puppets in a creepy silent movie. ‘Something Happened’ pushes a lonely David Bowie into silent orbit before ‘The Real Meaning Of Christmas’ plunges into more familiar territory, Falkous denouncing the perceived norms of commercial Western society.

How To Stop Your Brain… is a visceral album. Jimmy Watkins’ guitar cuts like a chainsaw, so convincing you can see the sparks flying. Jack Egglestone’s drumbeats are massive, relentless even, as they roll about your head while you witness Falkous and Watkins’ dueling axes rise out of hell’s very fire.

Future Of The Left succeed where few can ever manage: taking the technologies and practices of today’s music and turning it into something primal. It’s the huge, raucous bass lines, the constant dives into hard and soft, safety and peril, but there’s so much more. The start-stop guitar jumps into action one moment and then escapes down a dark, grimy well the next. You never quite know where you stand and this not knowing is what is so exciting; by the time everything has reached its addlebrained climax, with Falkous screaming his lungs out, it’s all you can do not to leap out of your seat, flip over a table – no, better yet, throw a few of them against the wall – and gnaw away at your hands while convulsing in equal parts joy and frustration.

This is music to dance to as much as lead an uprising at the United Nations.

Over the years, and on every FOTL release, Falkous has graced us with inspired, take-home lyrics. How To Stop Your Brain… is no exception. His now-expected deliveries of part comedy gold (“Nikola Tesla/ Father of the brain/ A terrible dresser”) part scathing rant (“A survey says paedophiles run the BBC, but look at the alternatives”) are all present and correct, as are many licks of suburban poetry, the standard of which Richard Yates would have loved to have written himself (“They say the price of love is a black hole, where your friends were, where your social life sits/ pulled into a chasm of family engagements and trips to the garden centre”).

‘Things To Say To A Friendly Policeman’ summons a punk-rock birthday party, where the gift is an angry bull, complete with distorted kazoos and beat-em-up guitar melodies set to turbo mode. This is followed by album closer ‘Why Aren’t I Going To Hell?’, a desert walk of self-reflection set to the vocal meanderings of Tom Waits. You can just imagine Falkous picking up his old crutch, the Roland Juno-60, to study it for a minute before tossing it to the side of the road, then slinging his acoustic guitar over his shoulders to walk off into the sun-drenched horizon.

A fitting end to an album that almost never saw the light of day. It may not break any new ground for Future Of The Left, but certainly proves that anything continues to be possible.