When I stumbled across the video for Future of the Left’s Sheena is a T-shirt Salesman, I watched it two or three times a day for weeks. Now, close to two years later, I still watch it pretty regularly. It has a kind of anti mainstream, punk attitude I hadn’t heard or seen for a long time. And it turns out, that song might be one of the poppiest, and most mainstream songs they’ve ever written. With How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident, Future of the Left are much more interested in noise, weird time signatures and throwing you curve balls every time you think you’ve got them figured out.
Just when you get in the groove of disjointed rhythms, screamed vocals and machine gun guitar, you get The Male Gaze, all jangling guitars and sweet “ooh ooh” backing vocals. Singing of the Bonesaws combines the spoken word of a proper, reserved English gent over a thundering bass line and sparse guitars, with typically cynical Future of the Left lyrics like, “A survey says paedophiles run the BBC, but look at the alternatives”.
French Lessons has a disarmingly quiet and sweet sound, but I won’t even try to interpret what the lyrics are saying when Andrew Falkous sings about, “I’m reading you like a pamphlet, that I picked from an idiot, on a unicycle in a town square”. Some things are best left not understood. His snarky sarcasm is a little more literal on How to Spot a Record Company when he declares, “Gotta obey, gotta obey, gotta obey the media”.
Rarely do Falkous’ lyrics fit nicely into rhyming couplets or a neat four bar structure. Instead, it’s more like he’s written a series of essays about everything wrong with the world, then found a way to force them into music. Future of the Left and How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident are sometimes aggressively messy, sometimes forceful and confronting, sometimes surprisingly musical, always impossible to ignore.