New Facts Emerge
While catching up on The Fall’s more recent history I was surprised to find that the band has consisted of a total of 66 members throughout its impressive and rather surreal 40-year history, and that Mark E. Smith (founder and vocalist) is the only remaining original member. That said, the past decade has seen a more stable lineup than previous years.
There’s something to be said for stability, as this album feels very set in its ways compared to their previous work, much more uniform than usual. In addition to Smith’s trademark staccato, off-kilter vocal deliveries, I recognize many familiar trademarks in the first track alone.
“Segue” opens with a distorted, sing-song verse and disjointed hand claps, which cascade unapologetically into the jangly lurch of “Fol De Rol.” “Brillo De Facto” has some catchy guitar hooks, but I feel a little cheated that I can’t understand the lyrics.
In fact, I feel like a lot of the album could use subtitles somehow, maybe as scrolling metadata embedded in the track on iTunes. I’m not sure how it would work, but I do feel that the incoherence of Smith’s vocals, takes away from the impact of this album a bit, especially given that he’s released a couple of spoken word albums and obviously has a way with words.
“Couples vs Jobless Mid 30’s” legitimately gave me weird dreams with its obnoxiously persistent drums and bizarro narrative which, again, can barely be deciphered. “O! Zztrrk Man” is a Fugazi-ish throwback to their earlier days and is joyfully noisy. Turn it up!
In short, if you’re okay with not “getting” most of the lyrics, you might enjoy this album. To be fair, Mark E. Smith has been described as “a strange kind of antimatter national treasure” and is 60 years old, so he gets to do what he wants. It’s up to you if you want to listen.