Saturday, December 29, 2007
Sweeping The Nation Albums Of 2007: Number 2
It may sound like damning with faint praise to say that Future Of The Left, comprising two-thirds of McLusky, are at their best equal to the superior moments of McLusky. Here, however, the cheap and easy comparative rings true; McLusky are often described as one of Britain's best rock bands of the early part of this decade, but we'd contend that they are in fact one of the best of anything ever from anywhere, and in that we include all feats and achivements of human history. They were a trio to believe in, wrenching out jagged basslines, alarm call guitars and on top of all that Andy Falkous' famously scabrous, dark comedic lines. In fact, Falkous said on a Too Pure podcast to promote this album that he often felt McLusky had been railroaded down 'comedy band' critical lines because of the borderline preposterousness of his lyrics. He was worrying about nothing, of course, the precise reason people still form bands in their image (and a big hello to Untitled Musical Project) is because they started songs "All of your friends are cunts/Your mother is a ballpoint pen thief" and sounded like they meant it. So while it's evolution rather than revolution, there's far more than enough evolution to go round in Curses. Compromise is still not high on the agenda. Brilliance, given Falco's still got pen to hand, quite evidently is.
See, when Falkous' clipped guitar meets the dirty floorboard vibrating distorted bass of Kelson Mathias, himself a refugee from cult but underselling Cardiff electronically enabled punk-funk post-hardcoreites Jarcrew and joining in on many an off-harmony here, and the hammering drums of McLuskite Jack Egglestone on The Lord Hates A Coward, pummelling and stop-starting as Falkous declares "violence solves everything", while it could have been an easy highlight of last McLusky album The Difference Between Me And You Is That I'm Not On Fire, but at the same time it doesn't seem like anyone involved is trying to latch on to previous glories. Their usual American underground rock influences are still to the fore - the car crash dynamics of prime early Pixies, Big Black's all-encompassing misanthropy, the Minutemen's way of stripping away all extraneous detail in favour of the molten core, the spike-tipped walls closing in that formed Fugazi anti-melodies and assorted other luminaries, from the Meat Puppets sludgecore of Fuck The Countryside Alliance to the Melvins-throttling Plague Of Onces ("why put the body where the body don't want to go"). Then Manchasm starts, and wait... is that a synth pattern? Yes it is, it just sounds like Falkous is playing it in much the same way as he plays guitar, directness over pretty spiralling patterns. It also helps that the song is brilliant, hooking its first verse on the repeated assertion that "Mark Foley was right" (a namecheck for the Cardiff studio owner rather than the disgraced Congressman, although you wouldn't put the latter past them) with a chorus consisting of a repeated "audience please, every minute matters", a middle eight of "all he ever wanted was a detonator (and not 'perineum' as we thought for quite a while, which would have been excellent) before ending on a vocal roundel of "Colin is a pussy, a very pretty pussy(cat)". Frankly, we could have hit our word limit just quoting key lyrics - "better bovine than equine" (My Gymnastic Past), "46 seconds in your company or 94 years in a frozen wasteland" (Real Men Hunt In Packs), yet another great Falco opening verse for the ages contender in Wrigley Scott - "Woody was a wizard/Janie was an elf/And when they got together, they only ate sausage" Pause. "SAUSAGE ON A STICK!" - but that'd be half the story. Suddenly It's A Folk Song might have been a melodic pop song once before it got brutally hacked into with guitar chainsaws, Small Bones Small Bodies has a funky bassline being continually run over, and Adeadenemyalwayssmellsgood cribs a vocal intro from Rawhide, a song structure from primality and a workable lyric from "there are no bold statements in my paradiddle". Closing track The Contrarian sees Falkous croon softly over a repetitive piano. You heard. You know, we try and be smart and literate in these end of year writeups, but when we don't feel like thinking too hard this has been the album we've put on every time, this set of twisted clarion calls that instantly make virtually all music that dares to call itself alt-rock redundant.
LISTEN ON: Manchasm
WATCH ON: Adeadenemyalwayssmellsgood
My favourite album of 2007 is...
Dave Martin, iLiKETRAiNS: "the new PJ Harvey record. An honorable mention should also go to Beirut, for up until a couple of weeks ago this would have got it. Pipped at the post..."