The Fall have been in existence for 39 years and massively influential to a lot of bands that really matter (e.g. Pavement). Mark E. Smith is the only constant in an eternally revolving cast of musicians. Despite the ever-changing personnel, The Fall will always sound like The Fall due to Smith’s idiosyncratic vocal stylings and enigmatic lyrics. Sub-Lingual Tablet is their 31st album.
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The Fall are increasingly beginning to resemble that eccentric elderly relative that you visit from time to time - you are amused by their oddities, glad they are still around but you wouldn’t want to spend too much time in their company.
There hasn’t been a great Fall album in quite a few years now though I saw them play a show at York Fibbers last year that ranks easily into my Top 3 Fall gigs. The sprawling sinewy kraut rock they played that night is largely absent from this their 31st album though it does have it’s moments particularly in the early part of the record. ‘Venice With the Girls’ is a storming opener with an almost Shellac style stuttery riff and layers of Mark E Smith’s voice cascading down as the track builds in intensity. If we ever think The Fall are going soft and sticking to their garage-rock template you only need to take one listen to ‘Black Roof’ - a splendid drunkenly lolloping track full of Beefheart rhythms and buzzing synths. Absolutely superb but notable in that it was written and performed by people currently not in the Fall. A warning sign that will come back to haunt the second part of the record. ‘Dedication Not Medication’ is made up of flabby sub bass runs and tight as an owl drumming sounding something like their previous ‘Blindness’ as remixed by Kode 9.
From there the worries intensify culminating in the absolutely dreadful ‘Stout Man’ - a pointless Stooges cover in which The Fall revert to their default setting when uninspired- crap local band fronted by tramp. The drifting kraut of ‘Auto Chip 2014-2016’ is much better with pulsating grooves and a lucid Smith whilst the funky and loungey ‘Snazzy’ is also pretty great. Overall though there are just too many substandard Fall-by-numbers efforts to make this truthy worthy. They are still worth a listen but the days when they truly amazed and inspired the listener may now be behind them.
9/10 Phil Johnson 16th May 2015
I listened to the album while painting my garden wall, and I must admit I chuckled my way through the album, just wonderful.
Mark E Smith is in glorious form chuntering, angry and demanding an FF’ing Facebook Troll to sort out his online imitators. His love of online world is again tested as he yelps and yowls at Crowdsourcers in PLEDGE, and screeches at everyone to put down Iphones……..
Junger Cloth is an instant Fall classic which proves MES still have genius-ah like tendancies … rapping-ah “Acrylic, lower, urals, question mark, more demonic than italic”
Which other band would dare to have a chorus of “Sad grief and bet wet pills”? Simply brilliant
By test, still the best-ah.
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