a reprint of a review of the last Fall album, because I’m tired, and someone mentioned it on Facebook
This is reprinted from The Vine. I just thought I could reprint it here, and remind any potential editors that, yes, I am perfectly able to write album reviews, thank you. I’m a fraction surprised no one asks me to write them actually … especially bearing in mind the sheer volume of crap that does get printed under the banner of ‘music criticism’. Perhaps I’m missing something?
Your Future Our Clutter
There’s confusion over the title. Some say ‘Your Future Our Clutter’. Others write ‘Our Future Your Clutter’. Both are from the same lyric, the banal (no insult) repetitive (no insult) slow-burning (no insult)opening track (no insult) ‘O.F.Y.C. Showcase’ which follows the familiar Fall template, honed and discarded and built-upon and brutalised over the past three decades: a main phrase, continually spat-out and repeated, with suitably darkened, off-mic lyrics added somewhere, the music building and building – a jam (no insult) in the style of (no insult) formative Fall influence Can (certainly no insult). Does this confusion even matter?
Much about The Fall is confusion, deliberately so.
The second track, ah now. ‘Bury Pts 1 & 3’. It’s about an obscure town somewhere in the North of Britain. Or perhaps it’s about a state of non-living? I suspect that in this context that it’s the former, what with all the mentions of “municipal buildings”, “grey squirrels” and “a chain around the neck”. It doesn’t matter. Sole Fall member Mark E. Smith – the remaining members might last for three days or 30 years but they’re still treated and thrown away as session musicians – might be rightly renowned as astonishingly creative, a fearsome wordsmith and lover of alcohol, but personally I’ve always listened to, and loved, The Fall for the rhythm in his voice, the static staccato magic of his sarcastic syllables. Not. The. Words. Themselves. Oh, and for the repetition, of course: it’s The Fall’s fiery and righteous substitute for the groove.
And this song certainly has it.
It’s the fashion, when it comes to reviewing a new Fall album, to cite a previous Fall album and place it in an order of ranking – a trick that is a little more purposeful when you consider that Wikipedia reckons they’ve released upward of 28 studio albums, and triple that, including live albums and other assorted releases (John Peel sessions etc). I own approximately 60 of these albums, at last count, and so it is with a bit of assurance I can report that 2010’s Your Future Our Clutter lies somewhere between the venomous revitalisation of 2007’s Reformation Post TLC, never dipping into shallows of the fallow late 90s Fall, and 1982’s steadfast Hex Enduction Hour (although clearly it’s way too early to say whether it aspires to the dizzying heights of the first two albums, both released during 1979, or indeed 1981’s lively Slates). Apologies for the momentary lapse into trainspotter-dom, but The Fall will do that to a (wo)man.
But that’s the wonderful thing about the Fall and the Mark E Smith template for better living: the musicians he regularly pulls in to replace the ones he let go before are so hyper-aware of The Fall sound and The Fall method there’s both constant reinvention and re-evaluation. Take the third track here, numbing in its force, ‘Mexico Wax Solvent’. Could even the most fanatical of a Fall fan place which year it came from shorn of context? Well of course they could. I sure as hell wouldn’t be able to, though, jumbled up. The confusion is sex.
Incidentally, the line-up here is the same as on 2008’s Imperial Wax Solvent – including Mark E.’s wife Elena Poulou Smith, who takes on the early 80s Brix E. Smith role on obscure backing vocals, keyboards and texture.
If you want to highlight the difference between US and UK underground ‘alternative’ rock in one snap and rather risible phrase: America gave us Sonic Youth while the UK gave us The Fall. It’s a heady thought indeed.
‘Cowboy George’, the fourth track here, nods acidly and amiably at a 60s surf garage past, and a 60s surf garage future: towards the end, the echoed feedback is monotonous (no insult) and monolithic (no insult) as Mark E. continues ranting to the galleries, my interest no longer piqued as the pulse, the feedback, the hunger has momentarily gone. But we all need a toilet break, right?
‘Hot Cake’ (the fifth track here) and ‘Y.F.O.C./’Slippy Floor’ (the sixth track here) are a ‘City Hobgoblins’ and a ‘Fiery Jack’ or possibly ‘Kicker Conspiracy’ for 2010, respectively – but wait, before you become too excited, you crazed Fall follower you, I’m not saying these tracks are anywhere near as good or immediate or canonical as the former, just pointing out superficial musical similarities. I’ll tell you what, though: if this was the first Fall album I heard, and I hadn’t heard Krautrock iconoclasts Can or super German 60s garage beat group the Monks before either, I would not be disappointed, not at all. I would be going, whoa, shit, wait. How the fuck come this isn’t being played on late night radio, every evening, every day of the week, every year of my life?
The music could change my life, or at least make it a fraction more palatable.
‘Chino’ echoes the Goth undertones of Germanic underground groups from the early 80s, and as such shouldn’t be discounted, although sure as shit I’m not playing this one again in preference to ‘Bury Pts 1 & 3’ or even some of those more obscure pre-Joy Division Warsaw outtakes (who this most resembles). ‘Funnel Of Love’ boasts a great title. ‘Weather Report 2’ is… well, let’s retain a little piece of mystery about the new Fall album shall we? Let’s just call it sinister, and move along.
There’s a new Fall album out. In comic book terms, this would be called the second Silver Age of The Fall, or something.