Perhaps the insipid jealousy of IPC music journalists was a factor; the maintenance of a sweaty conveyor-belt of grateful haircuts being the easiest way for them to flatter their collective vanity, while they in turn pay an annual sycophantic homage for the swollen, self-indulgent egotism of some Bono/Geldof/Oasis-type. Perhaps the marginalisation of Mclusky, in spite of numerous positive reviews by the very same journalists, was inevitable given that the journalists most responsible were answerable first of all to their own sense of inadequacy, and secondly to the purveyors of hair styling products. Both in terms of lyrical content and musical ferocity, rock music finds itself at an all-time low, dreadfully fashionable and in league with the designers of Top Shop catalogues and every other sort of inane consumerist dross.
“Mcluskyism” was released on 27th February 2006, and this writer wishes he could write a fitting review without need for the sort of embittered rant displayed above. But this is the only sensation that remains, together with a sort of generalised feeling of contempt for the numerous pub-rock bands who made it big, largely thanks to the NME’s hyperbolic endorsements, between Mclusky’s debut in 1999 and their demise in 2005. Take The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys and their ilk, all peddling variations of a time-honoured retro rock template; between them they have yet to produce anything that remotely approaches “Lightsaber Cocksucking Blues” or “To Hell With Good Intentions” for power and energy. Throughout Mclusky’s work noise and fuzz sit alongside melody, a fierce engine (Matt Harding, then later Jack Egglestone on drums, and Jon Chapple on bass) alongside lyrics which vary from the poignant (“Your heart’s gone the colour of Coca-Cola/rescind yourself as you get older”, WhoYouKnow), to the understatedly lucid (“Rock ‘n Roll’s just a ring on your finger!”, Provincial Song), to the totally bizarre (“Once a year/or maybe twice/your son looks like Michael Jackson”, 1956 & All That).
CD1 of Mcluskyism is a collection of all the band’s A-sides – meaning every song on the CD is superb, with the exception of “Undress for Success”, the band’s only poor release. The second disc has twenty-two B-sides, and the sheer variety on display gives the lie to lazy Pixies comparisons – they include a Fall-esque rambling dirge (“Dave, Stop Killing Prostitutes”), an insanely-loud, almost heavy metal version of “Love Song For a Mexican”, the stomping mantra of the aforementioned “Provincial Song”, and the hilarious and chaotic Jon Chapple-sung “Random Celebrity Insult Generator”. For fans already familiar with the A-sides and B-sides, CD3 is probably the most interesting, with unreleased tracks like “Bi-Polar Bears Take Seattle” and “The difference between me and you is that I’m not on fire” proving there was much more to this band than the three excellent LPs they released between 1999 and 2004. The between-song banter on the live tracks is a reminder that Mclusky live shows were always value for money. By the time of their break-up in early 2005, Mclusky’s sound had become even harder and faster than 2002’s seminal “Mclusky Do Dallas”; “Falco vs. the Young Canoeist”, which appears on their third album, and is among the live tracks on “Mcluskyism”, seems to take the blueprint from “Lightsaber..” and unthinkably improves it tenfold. Intelligent, aggressive, always changing for the better, Andy Falkous’s Cardiff-based three-piece will be sorely missed.