McLusky with Oceansize at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), tonight (Thursday, June 17). $10, $9 advance. 416-598-4753. Rating: NNNNN
Andy Falkous, singer and guitarist of the UK-based rabble-rousers McLusky, has asked for a 30-second break in our interview to get himself sorted. In the silence of the moment, I try to shake the odd impression I've started to develop. I feel like I'm talking to John Lydon (yes, he of Sex Pistols and PiL fame).
I blame this sensation on Falkous's natural inclination to acid truths and high-wit sarcasm. But it's more than that. Falkous's inflections and speech mannerisms are uncannily close to Lydon's, right down to the precision of the sinewy drawl he uses to stress his points.
It doesn't hurt that Falkous's sharp tongue and acute synaptic flashes are also evident in McLusky's musical temperament and lyrical swagger. The Welsh rock group play with an energy and ruthlessness that hews quite closely to Lydon's punkish flair.
But Falkous isn't just a fresh incarnation of Lydon's piss-take spirit, he's a comfortably angry wit with his own bones to pick.
"I've got a bit of a hobby tracking down and collecting band biographies," Falkous says, once he's back on the line from his home in Cardiff (he's originally from Newcastle). "They're the most incredible things. Successfully condensing everything about a band into about 200 words is an achievement. Most biographies end up being such ridiculous statements of fuck-all.
"You read them and you know deep down that you're never going to like their music," he continues. "There's just a certain arrogant mindset in the kind of band that thinks they are the be-all and end-all of music, the band who literally are going to save music.
"That's why I'm thinking of naming the next album I, The Centre Of The Universe," deadpans Falkous. "It's either going to be called that or Be Average To Each Other."
Falkous's manner, like his band's music, is whimsical and direct, more comfortable skipping from target to target than taking stabs at a distance.
"Whatever we call it, likely it will be misunderstood," he says with a laugh. "I don't think journalists understand our sensibility. With the first album, My Pain And Sadness Is More Sad And Painful Than Yours, they took the title literally. When we released McKlusky Do Dallas in 2001, all anyone could talk about was how nasty we sounded. Yes, it was angular, but in my view it was a classic pop album.
"Now, with the new one, The Difference Between Me And You Is That I'm Not On Fire, people are disappointed that it's not as mean-sounding."
Their sound, though frequently serrated, aggro even, is very much in tune with a kind of pop sensibility that predates our meaningless contemporary micro-classifications - timeless pop rock in the broadest sense.
It's a quality that will continue to confound critics looking for easy definitions.
"People need to sensationalize things," Falkous notes. "Blow them up into something that seems bigger or more or simpler than it is. Sensible Man Says Reasonable Things is never going to be a headline.
"I'm not saying our music is a kind of bloody fair-trade, small-craft-shop, no-GM, boring, featureless worthy thing, but I'd like to think there's something of substance to it," he quips.
"Other people mightn't agree. But I think that's because we haven't got the correct haircut for their particular paradigm."