This year in music, for me, has mostly been characterized by sissy whiteboys with acoustic guitars crooning about their pain pithily and with aspirations to literariness. It makes me feel like I'm getting old. So it's some small consolation that I'm still able to reca'nize that the greatest thing in the world is Future of the Left's album, Curses.
"I don't need a point! I don't need objectives! I don't need a purpose! I don't need a prison!"
People tend to complain when artists browbeat them. I read this all the time re: Nabokov. People can't stand it when artists are assholes to them. Me, I can't get enough. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing I loathe more than idle provocateurism in art. I hate it when somebody does something a schizophrenic diva might do just because people are watching (or, even worse, just to make them look), and screams "free speech and boundary-pushing!!!" as a authenticity signifiers. This mentality, if I might be allowed to sound pretentious, still toils away under the auspices of progress, and who needs progress? I just want catharsis. So did this Greeks. This is time-honored shit, right here, and nobody since Medea has been more cathartic than these insufferable Welsh hard-ons. I imagine it's sort of analogous to how I can't stand it when people make scenes, but I love it when people fucking fight. Not to call attention to themselves, just because they want to fucking fight. I love it when my best friend is looking me right in the eyes and poking me in the ribs with a sharp stick just to make my face flush so much I want to choke him out, and I go for his throat, and he pokes me in the eyes, and we hate each other intensely for three-hundred seconds and then share a handshake and split a milkshake, still wearing each other's sweat and rug-burned from glancing-blow headbutts.
"Ran out of limbs on our big day! We left our thumbs in the hotel!"
It's indicative of something in human nature -- or at least the degenerate substrate of human nature which I inhabit -- that the greatest band in the world, to me, is not one that makes me want to donate a bunch of money to UNICEF or put a few coats of fresh paint up in the inner city. It's a band that makes me want to throw a mason jar full of piss, pus, and cum at some dumb cunt's head just for having the bad taste to exist. And then stand over him Ali-Liston style, just so he knows -- I'm a fucking lion, and you're a fucking pussy.
"Colin is a pussy, a very pretty pussy, Colin is a pussy, a very pretty pussycat!"
We're talking about unchecked aggression here, Dude.
There's always been talk of "glee" in anarcho-punk, but I've never seen it before. Not before Future of the Left. Anarcho-punk, sure it tried to seem like it was gleeful, but it was really dour, even when it was yowling "I am the antichrist!" It never enjoyed the fact that it wanted to burn down the system, and it never enjoyed trying to burn down the system, because it was too busy trying to do something. It never had time to play. Even Jack Rotten was a dull boy. Trying to blow up Parliament with a powder-keg isn't nearly as much fun as shooting a man in Reno, just to watch him die.
"Why put the body where the body don't wanna go?!"
Which is why Future of the Left's is such a brilliant gambit. It loves the system, because it can revel in hating it so much. They are, if you'll forgive me for it, the most Zizekian band in the world. If they got rid of everything they loathed, they'd have absolutely no reason to exist. If utopianism wasn't as empty an impulse as ever breathed into man by God -- if Zion neared completion, if everybody was invited to rollerskate around the hallowed halls of Xanadu, these motherfuckers would get into such a funk. When they're happy, they're bored, and when they're bored, they need to fuck something up. So destroying stuff is really the only option. Not for any reason. Just because whatever. Happiness and agony are the same thing. As long as you have something outside yourself to hate, you don't have to think about hating yourself.
"Tories! Tories! Thanks for the Tories!"
The Future of the Left is the only name this band could possibly have. The future of the left, it turns out, is risibility, misanthropy, and hatefuckery. You need help? Well, fuck you. I sympathize. Only Future of the Left matters! Except they don't even really matter that much. Fuck this band! The logical conclusion of socialism is hating everybody equally. That's the only way to be really honest.
"Violence solved everything!"
Future of the Left used to be, more or less, mclusky. At least insofar as Andy Falkous occupies the frontman position of the bulk of both groups. And what's weird is, mclusky was a better band. They were even more pissed off. They were less tired. They buzzed more viciously, like a hot-pink chainsaw assfucking primetime-era Pixies songs. They had catchier songs with less fat, better bridges on more fire, sharper hooks, scathinger one-liners. ("All of your friends are cunts, your mother is a ballpoint pen thief," indubitably my favorite couplet in the history of lyric poetry.) There is absolutely no question that mclusky Do Dallas is a much, much better album than Curses, in any proper sense, like where you give an album some bullshit letter grade or numerical ranking, put it in your "best albums of the decade" list that never means anything, except insofar as it can fuel people to spit spite at you, whatever. But I've listened to Curses maybe three times as much. I don't understand it. And I don't want to. It's an ugly, messy thing, and it's overly ornamented, and it's overthought, and it's agonized and precise and it ought to be depressing. But it's the most exhilarating music, man. They're like the fucking Music Man.
"Open wide for sudden folk song."
I love Future of the Left so much that I wanted to buy a Future of the Left t-shirt. And I found an awesome one. It's got a guy on it, and all his fingers are thumbs. But it's only available in women's sizes. Fortunately, I know my size in women's sizes, because I'm the kind of guy who knows his size in women's sizes. So I've got a women's shirt coming at me, and I'm like "damn, why couldn't this be a men's shirt? What woman in the world would want to wear this shirt?" But you know what? I wouldn't be at all surprised if they knew no women would buy it, and they just think it's hilarious that fanboys like me will debase ourselves buying women's shirts, and scold us for compromising just to become advertisements for them. Then when we criticize them for exploiting gender norms, they'll kick us in the balls, spit in our Activia, call us cunts, and make out with the girl we're in love with while we wheeze in pain. And we'll love it, like please sir can I have some more.