The Fall – Re-Mit (Cherry Red Records)


Being a Fall fan has its ups and down. On the plus side you regularly get new material, with a relentless pace of almost an album a year since 1977 – and some of it’s pretty great. On the flipside, that huge discography has a lot of pretty bad albums too, and for every Fall classic like Live At The Witch Trials or Hex Enduction Hour, there’s a forgettable mess like Are You Are Missing Winner or The Twenty Seven Points. Re-Mit, the bands 30th album, falls into that latter category of Fall albums you’ll keep because they’re Fall albums, but won’t be likely to listen to very often. The songs, and I had to take a moment to decide whether I could call many of Re-Mit’s tracks songs, are more formless than your typical Fall album and Smith’s vocals are often an indecipherable series of grunts and parched growls. It starts off well enough, with a short intro and “Sir William Wray” which are reasonably close to the obtuse ragged kraut-abilly punk-prog sound of recent Fall albums. However, Re-Mit quickly nose-dives into nonsensical babble, with Mark E. Smith carelessly growling his way through “Kinder Of Spine” and “Noise”, both of which have performances so loose and tentative, I’m 10-20% sure sections were made up on the spot. Even on their best albums The Fall are a prickly thorn of a band whose good qualities are hard to describe to the unseasoned listener, but Re-Mit doesn’t offer up any new Fall songs, Fall sounds or Fall ideas rewarding enough for me to recommend anything other than avoidance.

The Fall- Ersatz G.B. (Cherry Red Records)


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Twenty-nine studio albums in and not only are The Fall still chugging along, but they’re actually becoming…gasp…a stable outfit. This is the third album in a row with the same line-up, something that has never happened before in the band’s history (for more on their revolving door lineups, read Dave Simpson’s genius book The Fallen…more on that here: https://midnighttosix.wordpress.com/category/essays/the-fallen-by-dave-simpson/). Could it be that Mark E. Smith has lightened up in his old age? Absolutely not. Ersatz G.B. is as prickly and misanthropic a record as anything The Fall has ever done. Smith spits his usual asides and polemics about a variety of topics, including the state of Britain, Snow Patrol (who Smith despises to the surprise of no one) and Gossip Girl. Yes, you read that right – the song “Nate Will Not Return” actually includes several references to Gossip Girl. Specific cultural references aside, Ersatz G.B. isn’t a huge departure for the group, but it does explore some new territory with the band getting extra heavy on “I’ve Seen Them Come” and “Greenway”, the latter of which borders on metal, and features an especially grizzled growl from a parched-sounding Mark. E. Smith. Somebody get that man a glass of water! The excursions into metal don’t work particularly well, meaning Ersatz G.B. isn’t among my favorite Fall records, but it’s more interesting than you would expect from a band this deep into their career.

Tracklisting:

  • “Cosmos 7” – 2:48
  • “Taking Off” – 4:01
  • “Nate Will Not Return” – 6:02
  • “Mask Search” – 2:41
  • “Greenway” – 4:13
  • “Happi Song” – 4:19
  • “Monocard” – 8:08
  • “Laptop Dog” – 4:01
  • “I’ve Seen Them Come” – 6:05
  • “Age of Chang” – 3:27