The transition from McCluskey to Future of the Left wasn’t seamless, involving the loss of one band member and at least some portion of their acerbic sledgehammer wit, but it was close. Future’s 2007 debut, Curses, was a satisfying if somewhat pale continuation of McCluskey’s tradition of bizarre irreverence and churning guitars, a slight stumble out of the gate that’s forgotten by their latest album. Travels with Myself and Another expands the complexity, adding guitar solos and a more careful sense of composition to the pounding fray.
Formally, the difference between the two bands is the addition of a Roland Juno-60 synthesizer, though this is more of a piece of forced contrast than an actual distinction. The instrument pops up here in a supporting capacity, largely in the background, adding buzzing overtones and an additional layer to songs like “Lapsed Catholics,” where it briefly breaks out and takes command of the song. Overall, though, its presence is limited, and the only real difference from McCluskey is a surer handle on the complexities of this type of material, which presents absurd lyrical free-associations posing as meathead rock, a pummeling onslaught where darkly humorous refrains collide with muddy blasts of unfiltered noise.
At heart, the band has a postmodern mindset, breaking down the tenets of rock music to their simplest form, adding commentary through lyrics that seem off the cuff but are often misleadingly complex. This commentary is filled out by a sense of almost industrial gloom, a clanging din that gives the often-silly lyrics a sinister edge, the deepening of which is one way the album comes into its own—as evidenced by doom-laden but catchy tracks like “You Need Satan More Than He Needs You,” a sly remark on rock n’ roll devil worship that eventually trades its cheeky opening for a roaring outro that’s anything but cute. At the other end of the spectrum, more accessible songs, like the single “The Hope That House Built,” are more complex and less threatening, slowing down the tempo and adding a hook not predicated on cacophonous noise. It’s still an attack, but a much more delicately delivered one.