Polymers Are Forever is the first offering from respected Welsh alternative rockers Future of the Left since the departure of co-founder and bassist Kelson Mathias. Filling the void is Australian Julia Ruzicka (formerly Million Dead), while fellow addition Jimmy Watkins brings a second crunching guitar to FOTL’s already bulky sound. If any fans were worried that the loss of Mathias and the move to a quartet may somehow diminish FOTL’s varied and often frantic style, fear not. Polymers Are Forever is a six-track EP that showcases the band’s diversity while warming up listeners for their next full-length record due in early 2012.
When discussing Future of the Left, the lyrical offerings of Andy ‘Falco’ Falkous and the use of keyboards in separating themselves from former ‘Falco’ band Mclusky has become somewhat of a staple.
The opening title track only adds ammunition to this conversation with the song built around the combination of a synthesia/guitar riff that offers ample opportunity to bang your head. Falkous plays with his voice giving the verses a nasal quality somewhat reminiscent of Mike Patton (best known as frontman of Faith No More).
As the song reaches its climax, a unique combination of lyrics are repeated that only Falkous could transform into a catchy sing-along hook, ‘Old stones collected in plastic bags on a bloody isle, then placed in rows on the ocean floor, your friends, polymers’.
With Apologies to Emily Pankhurst follows in similar fashion utilizing heavy guitar and shrieking keyboards, although the delivery is a throwback to the kind of songs punk rock was founded on; short, fast, loud and punchy.
Changing the mood in an instant is New Adventures, which opens with 10 seconds of Muppet-like ‘ba-ba-da-dah’ and employs a pop melody, vocal effect and guitar sound evocative of recent Strokes singles.
My Wife is Unhappy loses the keyboards in favour of a little horn while Falkous delivers his lyrics in a spoken word style. The story tells of a married couple struggling with alcoholism in a surprisingly straightforward narrative with lines such as ‘they had to sell the sofa, the children had departed but the beer won’t buy itself’ and ‘instead of commonsense her parents gave her whisky’. Of course this is Future of the Left, so comical lyrics about actor Joe Pesci somehow creep their way into the song without detracting from the overall mood.
Dry Hate picks the pace back up as Falkous continues on in spoken word until about 1:25 into the track where he cracks a venomous rock scream informing listeners that “Jesus love a renegade”. Closing out the EP is destroywhitchurch.com. The song starts off with the cleanest vocals and guitars on the entire EP before crashing down upon you with all the guitar, keys and drums FOTL can muster, creating a cluster-f**k of noise.
In past interviews, Folkous has mentioned that he strives to conjure up moods and scenes as opposed to being literal. Polymers Are Forever is certainly evidence of that. Within 6 tracks Future of the Left showcase various arrangements and plays as deliberately disjointed. Polymers Are Forever may not be the most accessible release for new fans (I’d recommend starting off with 2007s debut Curses) but for existing fans it should only bolster their appreciation of FOTL and build excitement for next year’s upcoming LP.