Having a sense of humor is a risky thing in rock music. There’s always the chance you’ll be dismissed as a novelty act, or that the joke will wear thin. Cardiff’s Future of the Left are willing to take that risk. This is a band, after all, whose previous incarnation was Mclusky — you may remember their album The Difference Between Me and You Is That I’m Not On Fire — and who’ve become even quirkier since renaming themselves Future of the Left.
They get away with it, luckily. The Welsh have a natural facility for surreal wit (see also: Super Furry Animals) and tracks like “Camp Cappuccino” and “Sorry, Dad, I Was Late for the Riots” are full of multilayered surrealism. Stylistic twists like stadium rock chants, prog-rock tempo changes and medieval folk singing only add to this weirdness. But the thing that steers the album clear of irritating kookiness, or one-note wackiness, is its rage.
Future of the Left are clearly influenced by the splenetic weirdness of Mark E. Smith and the mind-games of Nomeansno. The whole album is about the ridiculousness of the modern world, the ease with which we accept horror, and — most obviously in “Robocop 4 — Fuck Off Robocop” — the contempt with which mainstream culture treats its audience. It’s the kind of humor that helps us see the world more clearly, and woven into the brilliantly mad and infectious music, it is the diametric opposite of a joke that wears thin: righteous, exciting and demanding to become part of your life.