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The Fall
Your Future, Our Clutter Mick Middles , April 28th, 2010 07:39

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Fall albums emerge slowly from the fog, these days, and their arrival is heralded by an excitable flotilla of - mainly - respectful reviews. (Yeah, the odd wordy renegade, here and there), but few people who hold love for The Fall ever seem to be disappointed. Except me, for some reason... I grew weary of Reformation Post TLC very quickly and started to wonder if the ageing of Mark E. Smith had finally started to blur those edges. One couldn't have blamed him, for the lifetimes of several hundred artists are buried within those 28 studio albums. His stamina has never been questioned. Nevertheless, as always with The Fall, the enemy is standing still and, with each album, one looks for progression and hopes for freshness.

Almost exactly two years ago, as a frankly bizarre seminar on the life and workings and scribblings) of Mark E. Smith at Salford University, legendary producer Grant Showbiz opined that “Smith is bang on top of his game". At the time I argued against this, backing up my thoughts with a story of a rather dull Fall gig at Liverpool's Nation, several months earlier.

Well, it did seem tired for a little while but here, now, we find a simmering magic and, yes, an endearing freshness right from the off button. I would even state that this is the best new Fall album since... since Heads Roll at least and probably far beyond that.

But let's not go there. The Fall has always been stubbornly based in the present and YFOC is certainly no exception. Yes, from the opening 'OFYC Showcase', it rocks like a bastard, a crisp, tingling snare drum holding Mark's spirited chanting (about what, I have and have never had much idea) aloft. Knowing The Fall's eternal perversity, this song may never open their sets, though it should be tagged on specifically for that purpose.

'Bury PTS 1 + 3' continue the momentum, in which Elena Poulou's vocal softens the Smith attack. Anyone who has ever wandered among the black pudding stalls of Bury's vast market (Hey, this is the place where his mum bought him that famous diamond patterned sweater in '78) might find it bewildering to see the town immortalised in such a thrusting jagged affair. One might look beyond, to the famous Bury waxings of Guy Garvey's troupers, to discover where Smith's head may be at. One shouldn't discount the Elena effect, either. Once something of a ghost (On The Real New Fall LP) her emergence has been profound and it is no fluke that, for seven years, she is the only musical constant in this famously fluctuating band. Don't think that she is 'in' by way of her marital status either; Smith has sacked 'wives' before. Right now, such an act seems impossible... but then this is The Fall and anything can happen.

I do not wish to guide you track by track here, for Luke Turner has already nailed that on this very site. But what happens here is genuinely remarkable. With a great sense of mischief, Smith allows the rollicking start to collapse into experimental fervour, where various forms of percussion (along with warming cowboy guitars at one stage) are used to guide his evocative mumblings. In places, in a number of places, the album strongly reminds me of the eternally underrated Red Crayola, where Mayo Thompson's relentless thirst for experimentalism becomes all consuming. But then... just, just as the wild fun starts to become disorientating, the heart is revived by the funky, bass heavy 'Chino'. A fabulous burst that - forgive me, Mark, for the sin of looking back - that contains echoes of the electronically minded Fall who were so expertly guided by the brilliant Julia Nagle. Many times, during the band's last four albums, I have longed for this sense of fun, this sense of adventure. It has been noted in the NME review of this album that 'The Fall are 'the best new band in Britain'. Well maybe that is not so flippant. There is no trace of genre, here. There is nothing. Just a truly idiosyncratic muse having fun, toying with the absurd notion of the band aesthetic in 2010. Alive and pretty much alone.

Truth is, and I am typing this under the hypnotic spell of the concluding track, 'Weather Report 2', I had wanted to escape the clutches of Mr Smith. Would have like to but, as he chants "You gave me the best years of my life" I am simply drawn back. Not by weary nostalgia either, but by the sheer blinding brilliance of every second here. Of every mad explosion. There are many, many surprises too... and seemingly on every track. Only a buffoon would offer a weary critical sigh.

After all this noise, it ends in a murky whisper. A wry smile. The Fall sail back gently back into the fog and, I have to report, after all that has transpired (a fucking lot, frankly), a deep love of this racket remains intact. God damnit!

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Rich M
Apr 28, 2010 2:02pm

Just when you thought you were out, they pull you back in again, eh?
At the beginning of one of their more recent live DVDs they're introduced by Some Guy who calls them "the only band in the world"

which says it all, really.

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Apr 30, 2010 6:11pm

pretty much mirrors what i think of them

you give up on them and then u have to admit they're still good-it irks

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Count Screwloose
May 5, 2010 12:36am

The review that best reflected my feelings on the subject. Many of the laudatory reviews seemed to me as kneejerk as the usual disparaging remarks, which I put down to journalistic cycles and a new US record contract. The more I listen, though, the more I revise this. Up there with "Heads Roll" and "Unutterable" among latter-day accomplishments, and the concluding salvos of "Chino" and "Weather Report 2" bring something only Fall records can. Not that I can tell you what that is.

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Jann Venner of Rolling Stone Magazine
May 11, 2010 10:29am

Flaccid garage rock bar two tracks.

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Doctor Nut
May 25, 2010 10:45am

Supported them last Saturday in Frome, Somerset - great show and what an honour!

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mick middles
May 28, 2010 12:57pm

In reply to Jann Venner of Rolling Stone Magazine:

Extraordinary comment, Jann. The Fall are a strange item in America, connecting in a most random manner.Flaccid, I suggest, is everything they/he have/has battled against....and for 30 years. To retain that freshness after a frenetic three decades is unique, in the true sense. Not all the albums are of such standard, I admit. But this one is. Now as for Rolling Stone...

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Tim J
Jun 16, 2010 9:08pm

The Fall must make more decisions about their music than any other band so they are going to make more mistakes but this album isn't one of them. I think they went through some material from this album when I saw them at The Assembly in Leamington last year. After a couple of songs into the set I felt like I was being run over by a freight train, not because of the volume of sound but because of the volume of ideas. Live they make a noise like no other band, and The Fall is no more Flaccid Garage Rock than Rolling Stone Magazine is The Bible.

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Jul 1, 2010 12:05pm

An absolutely blinder, even better than the previous album 'Imperial Wax Solvent' and that's really saying something as i thought that one wouldn't be topped!

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Jul 15, 2011 4:05pm

The Fall are a strange item in America, connecting in a most random manner.Flaccid, I suggest, is everything they battled against....and for 30 years. To retain that freshness after a frenetic three decades is unique, in the true sense
brainetics review

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