Friday, September 18th, 2009

Future of the Left – Arming Eritrea

Not actually a single. Well, not yet, anyway…


Fergal O’Reilly: Wherein a permanently enraged man who once decided to end a song by screaming “Danny Baker” over and over turns his attentions towards browbeating the absolute shit out of a man called Rick. As snakepits of irrational fury go this one is relatively routine, but it really comes into its own when it comes over all stirring and triumphant at the pounding climactic section, neatly reconciling Falkous’ ear for a tune and his ability to shout very loudly.

Anthony Easton: Who is Rick?

Alex Ostroff: I like to pretend that this is a letter from Ilsa Lund to Bogart’s Rick, at the end of Casablanca. “Hey Rick!”, it declares, “I’m not a prize. I’m not a cynic, or one of those guys…I’m not a child; I’m not special or one of a kind.” Eritrea isn’t quite Morocco, but it’s close enough, right? The word for this song, at any rate, is blistering. Bluster and sloganeering and the swing of the drums, and deep, growling guitars. Not much of a melody, but a voice pushed to the very edge of tearing itself apart. It certainly doesn’t reinvent rock music, but the fundamental things apply, as time goes by.

Alfred Soto: I don’t know what gives these fools the right to pretend they can shout as boringly as Rage Against The Machine just because they can spell “Eritrea” correctly.

Chuck Eddy: I was under the impression for some reason (their name, maybe?) that this was a “political” band, but if so, their politics here are slipping past me. Not that I like most political rock anyway, but I somehow had hopes that they’d at least be filling the UK’s apparently long-vacant fractured-rhythmed funk-punk Pop Group/Fall/Blurt/Box/Three Johns/Membranes/Pigbros/Janitors/World Domination Enterprises/Big Flame/Nightingales crap-rap gap. But nope — just your usual stiff-arsed Welsh screamo twerps with a guitarist who knows how to stop-and-start and a more commanding sore-throat ranter than usual screeching his tantrum up front. Which tantrum at least manages to hold my interest some, probably by personalizing it with people’s names and stuff.

Mordechai Shinefield: It’s not totally clear what the lyrics are referring to; the potency comes from the delivery, not the political buzzwords (“A common purpose / A common goal,” “Freedom from notes, she sells freedom from songs”). Andy “Falco” Falkous simultaneously sings of leaving childhood behind (“Come on, Rick, I’m not a child,” “I know my own worth / I’m an adult!”), and maintaining a sense of youth (“I’m not a cynic or one of these guys”). But the real star is the music, driving forward ferociously towards some void and abyss – as if you could play hard and fast enough to crack reality. According to Falkous, we arm Eritrea, and according to the U.N., Eritrea is arming Somalia, but in the end, “Arming Eritrea” is the explosive object; it sounds like it could end the world.

Alex Wisgard: Toting some of the finest dynamics of any track since the advent of the loudness wars, “Arming Eritrea” is proof if proof be need be that Future of the Left are hands down one of the most essential ROCK bands Britain has to offer. Andy Falkous’ lyrics are as bizarre and elliptical as ever, but they’re now laced with a sense of pathos that can only come from an overhyped, underselling mid-level indie band who (as Falco says) know their own worth. With that in mind, it’s fitting that the song’s most anthemic moment is its majestic, borderline emo, coda – the band’s poppiest moment to date. YEAH!

Matt Cibula: If you were such an adult you’d want to communicate something rather than just kissing to be clever like you do here. The emperor might have a big fat monolith of a guitar sound but he ain’t got no britches do he.

Martin Kavka: At my institution, we talk a lot about the difference between “goals” and “objectives”. People tell me that the latter can be measured while the former can’t, but I’m never quite sure whether I’ve ever gotten it. When Future of the Left sing “A common purpose gains value as a common goal,” I’m even more at sea as to what they actually mean. Nevertheless, there’s a lot of genuine energy here, even if most of it seems to be expressed in anger. Don’t like much, really, do they? I hope that what they do like, they love passionately.

Pete Baran: It strikes me that any band who wants you to listen to their words shouldn’t then blow it by just repeating the not very good first verse. Fizzy but not exactly the last word on the East African disputes between Ethiopia and Eritrea. When the real point of the title kicks in as a cheap jokey rhyme I felt a bit let down, but it has a surprising amount of legs.

Michaelangelo Matos: I! Liked! That one! System — of a DOWN! Album! In 2001! Too! This — isn’t too — BAD! A thing! IN! That… VEIN!

Anthony Miccio: It might just be that shrill keyboard, but the chorus brings to mind Andrew WK and My Chemical Romance, neither of which represents a direction I’d be excited to see ex-mclusky members go down. Remove it, and you’ve basically got a rewrite of “To Hell With Good Intentions.” That’s not particularly exciting, either.

Ian Mathers: When mclusky broke up I had that sinking feeling you always get when a beloved band splits and promises they’re all moving on to better things. But Andy Falkous, bless him, has proved me wrong. Just as tuneful as mclusky ever was, Future of the Left’s singles, at least, have proven even more ferocious than mclusky was towards the end, and as much as I adore “She Will Only Bring You Happiness” Falkous excels at this kind of hate-filled gob right in the eyes.

John M. Cunningham: An impressive slab of post-hardcore, though a bit abrupt and not quite as tuneful as most songs by their compatriots Dananananaykroyd (maybe that’s a facile comparison; I don’t hear a whole lot of British stuff in this vein). Also, I surely can’t be the only one who heard Andy Falkous screech “C’mon Rick!” and was instantly put in the mind of that Amy Poehler/Horatio Sanz sketch on SNL?

Andrew Casillas: It’s nice to see these guys progressing away from the mclusky sound, but this is really only the 3rd or 4th best song on their record. But yeah, play this shit loud.

6 Responses to “Future of the Left – Arming Eritrea”

  1. Sometimes you people really frustrate me. The three I can take (come here Alfred, so I may gently slap you about the cheeks), but all those sixes?

  2. Better than all those 4’s for their last single, no?

  3. Fair point.

  4. “Mordechai Shinefield” writes pure self-inflated nonsense. Do you think you’re some sort of genius, sir? Anyone who begins the end of a review with “In the end” should be shot on sight. Next question.

  5. Great analysis, “Trip Dickwell III.”

  6. Alfred Soto.. Good one bro. Surprises me that you even know how to type.