It’s been almost three years since the last Future of the Left album, though we haven’t exactly been left wanting, with frontman Andrew Falkous delivering two solid albums under his new Christian Fitness moniker in the interim. Nevertheless, it’s undeniably exciting to have the full band back in action, as demonstrated by the PledgeMusic campaign for fifth album The Peace and Truce of Future of the Left reaching its goal in a mere three hours. Their second pledge-funded album, they’re evidently one of model’s success stories, partly due to loyal fans that have been following Falkous since his Mclusky days, but also because they’re a band that can generally be relied upon to deliver.
On first listen of the new LP, it’s hard not to notice that unlike every previous record, there are no huge, immediate stand-out tracks to latch on to. There isn’t a ‘Manchasm’ or an ‘Arming Eritrea’ to immediately leap out of the speakers and reel you in, but it’s an album to stick with – as early as the second listen, hooks start to reveal themselves and tracks that initially felt worryingly forgettable turn out to be anything but. Pretty soon it becomes apparent that while there may be no towering peak, this LP is certainly the band’s most consistent set of songs since career highpoint Travels With Myself And Another back in 2009.
What’s also notable about The Peace and Truce is the album’s back-to-basics feel, no doubt a result of their return to a trio following the departure of guitarist and token Welshman Jimmy Watkins. Watkins’ tenure gave the band the option to toy with their sound more than ever, resulting in good but uneven third LP The Plot Against Common Sense and the stronger, more realised How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident. While few would deny the power of the latter album, this follow up feels like a surprisingly refreshing return to their roots, less varied but more focused on the noisy rock music they do best. They sound more comfortable in their own skin with fewer instruments to cater for, Falkous’ riffing and shouting and Jack Egglestone’s ever pummelling drums congregating around Julia Ruzicka’s gigantic bass, a force of nature that recaptures her predecessor Kelson Mathias’ huge sound back on 2007 debut Curses (the insistent guitar riff of ‘50 Days Before The Hun’ also brings to mind early B-side ‘The Fibre Provider’). Like the last album, keyboards are used only sparingly – probably a wise move after developing a slight overreliance on them on album three – appearing only now and then in supporting roles like on the wonderfully melodic ‘Grass Parade’, while Falkous’ effects-ridden guitar on tracks like ‘No Son Will Ease Their Solitude’ carries the distinct mark of those Christian Fitness albums.
While it’s difficult to pick individual highlights, excellent titles (‘White Privilege Blues’) and lyrics (“A dead body in the boot of a Nova is the least of my problems/As long as there’s still room for the shopping” from ‘Running All Over The Wicket’) abound as ever, and it’s a delight to hear Falkous’ mock RP accent from ‘Singing Of The Bonesaws’ get another outing on ‘Miner’s Gruel’. An EP of possibly weirder non-album cuts is also on the way, but where the band go from here remains to be seen. They may feel the need refill that second guitarist role, but this album is a reminder of how little they need one. Cathal McBride
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