13 for ’13: Future of the Left – French Lessons

Part 11 of a 13 song recap of my 2013 in no particular order

One of the most heartwarming musical stories of 2013 for me came from watching Future of the Left put up a kickstarter to self release another record after leaving their record label and have it exceed their goal it less than 5 hours. Such is the good will Andy Falkous has built up over 3 previous FOTL records and his previous life in Mclusky. Even Captain Cynical himself must have had his black heart warmed by the speed at which his fans rushed to support him and get the next album underway. Not that you’d notice listening to the results, the fantastic How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident. If anything it’s the most angry and on-the-nose satirical record he’s put out to date. It used to be the case that the wit and the one liners were mostly non sequiturs, humorous asides written purely to fit the music – it’s only over the past couple of records that he’s got specific. Witness the savageness of The Singing of Bonesaws for evidence – a spoken word piece more viscous than any of their throat shredding noise numbers. Even in what comes closest to a ballad as the band have got so far, French Lessons, the sarcasm and bile runs through it like a stick of rock that reads, “fuck you.” It can either be read as a song about the fear of growing up and settling down or just an excuse to marry some great lines to a surprisingly elegant backing from a band more used to pummeling than seducing. Either way it’s both a great break of pace in an otherwise unrelenting album, but more than that it’s a fine piece of songcraft in it’s own right. It’s as funny as the best Falco penned songs (his proposed solution to getting entangled in an endless stream of family engagements:”You could marry yourself to an orphan girl and overcompensate on her birthday”) but with a swoon and whimsy that they’ve never quite showed before. Whilst the lion’s share of How to Stop Your Brain… grinds and pummels harsher than they have since the debut, and sounds great doing so, it’s the more experimental numbers that steal the show. I could happily have picked most of the songs on the album for this run down of songs of the year, and I may just be plumping for this one for how disarming it is. I don’t think it’s just novelty value that has me coming back to this song time after time though. It’s nestled itself into my own personal FOTL best of playlist and I can’t see it shifting any time soon.

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