Each week, we take a retrospective look on albums which we think are either criminally underrated or woefully overrated, and why they actually rock/suck.
How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident, the fourth album by the thinking man’s post-millennial post-hardcore band, starts with a fairly telling line. Behind rumbling, signature-shifting guitars and drums, singer/guitarist Falco – no, not that Falco – informs us ‘I’m just a man, a simple thing’. To prove it though, he makes the most maverick of moves. He makes a Future of the Left album that’s a bit disappointing.
The opening track, ‘Bread, Cheese, Bow and Arrow’, flies out the blocks with Falco’s inimitable sneering aggression, but there’s an underlying feeling that the track sounds somehow familiar. This wouldn’t be a concern if the album contained a myriad of styles like their last one, but the group went for a more focused, meaty approach here, meaning that the majority of tracks don’t stand out from each other at all on a musical level.
Fortunately, Falco’s lyrics are as incisive as ever and when he plays to his strengths as a story-teller, the results are phenomenal. The protagonists of ‘Future Child Embarrassment Matrix’, ‘Donny of the Decks’ and ‘She Gets Passed Around at Parties’ are seedy, shocking and brilliantly creative in equal measure. However, the issue is that his ‘shit celebrity’ radar has been turned back on and locates easy targets like Johnny Borrell and Kim Kardashian. A man with such a genuinely transgressive song-writing talent shouldn’t need to stoop to these levels to find someone to rip apart – a point proven by the richness of lines aimed at modern politics, religion, musical loyalty and major television companies. Evidence that Falco’s surreal genius is still there makes the weaker lines all the more frustrating.
Another slightly strange twist, perhaps coinciding with his marriage to bassist Julia Ruzicka, is the emergence of actual human sentimentality in songs like ‘I Don’t Know What You Ketamine’, ‘French Lessons’ and ‘Something Happened’. They’re not even bad songs, but they’re certainly not what we expected from a man who once sung ‘If I had to choose a woman then I think I’d choose religion’.
If this album came from a less consistently brilliant band it wouldn’t even be close to disappointing, but sadly we need to be a bit tougher on Future of the Left because they’ve left us expecting nothing but brilliance, and this album just doesn’t cut it. Falco really is just a man after all…
Click here to judge the album for yourself and decide if I’m talking absolute nonsense (it has been known to occur).