Future of the Left frontman Andy Falkous doesn’t sing; instead, he shouts and narrates. His lyrics are wordy socioeconomic commentaries sprinkled with non sequiturs, and like Black Francis and D. Boon before him, Falkous satirizes in front of a battery of drums and guitar abrasion. He’s been doing it since his days with mclusky and continues doing it on The Plot Against Common Sense, Future of the Left’s third full-length.
“Sheena is a T-Shirt Salesman” opens the album with sickle-sharp feedback and an anti-consumerist agenda—call it a template track for Falkous’ entire career. He weaves seemingly unrelated tropes into singular statements that are often funny, sometimes poignant, and always thought-provoking. Highlight “Beneath the Waves an Ocean” examines a cafe and its inhabitants; the cafe remains constant yet it’s perceived differently by each of its patrons. The social experiment pulses with post-hardcore urgency before giving way to the album’s catchiest moment, a shout-along chorus of “No way you’ll ever find peace with the name they gave you.”
The Plot Against Common Sense is 15 tracks of Falkous relentlessly spewing his thoughts, cramming in phrase after anecdote after analogy after hypothetical. It becomes exhausting. If you stop and think about a line like, “Sixteen hours in a luggage rack with these children at my feet,” asking yourself what it means—like a good critical thinker—you’re going to miss the stanza that follows it. Forget listening to The Plot Against Common Sense while multitasking; Falkous requires your brain as well as your ears, and he doesn’t wait up for you.
The Plot Against Common Sense reinforces Falkous’ personality instead of showing another side of it. These are the same commentaries and the same battery of drums and guitar abrasion — and there’s nothing wrong with that. Falkous is a smart guy with a lot to say (too much, perhaps), and there are plenty of lyrical nuggets scattered throughout the album. But like a book of difficult poetry, The Plot Against Common Sense is best kept on the shelf and visited infrequently. It’s rewarding if given the occasional spin but tiresome if spun too often.
Essential Tracks: “Sheena is a T-Shirt Salesman”, “Beneath the Waves an Ocean”, and “Notes for Achieving Orbit”