The Fall
The Real New Fall lp (formerly Country on the click)
/action; 2004/

more info:

The Fall has been around since 1976, has released 25 studio albums and an incalculable number of live albums, compilations and singles. The Fall endured about thirty line-up changes (about 50 members) over the years, according to Mark E. Smith’s mood swings. The current line-up is Mark E. Smith of course, his wife Elena (keyboards), Ben Pritchard (guitar), Dingo (bass), Dave Milner (drums). While Sanctuary releases 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong, 39 Golden Greats, another Fall compilation aiming at gathering Smith’s best songs (a difficult task), I opted for giving The Real New Fall lp a new shot, knowing that I would have the chance to see them live.

I had been eager to see The Fall for a long time and I finally did last may. It took place at Primavera festival and The Fall, unfortunately, did not have much time to play. Despite the frustration coming from the gig’s short duration, it was an outstanding moment of poisonous energy, tense atmosphere, indifferent but provocative ranting to chant indecipherable lyrics, rhythmic section on tenterhooks and a deadly huge charisma. Mark E. Smith was injured this winter and toured with crutches and mostly sang sat down. Last may he was standing but did not move much though. Even though he seems harrowed and haggard, looking 15 years older than he actually is, and even though his fellow band members help him with the vocals, he still rocks. This gig was particularly intense. Half of the song in the set list came from The Real New Fall lp.

This album was originally meant to be released in April 2003 under the title Country On The Click. Apparently, there was a warning on the promo copies saying: "For promotional use only - anyone abusing this will have Mark E Smith to contend with and may God have mercy on your soul". Despite the warning, the songs appeared on the internet, which led the band to remix some tracks, re-record others and re-title the album.

When the album finally came out fall 2003, I listened to it idly, not expecting much of it considering that The Fall had not released a great album since 1995 and an extraordinary one since 1988. I should have known better. Always listen carefully several times to an album by The Fall before adopting a final opinion. Albums by The Fall are slow-burners. If I had enjoyed The Real New Fall lp six months ago as much as I do today, it would have undeniably ended in my 2003 top ten list.

The sound is closer to the albums released in the mid-nineties than to the eighties ones. Almost each 90’s album by The Fall contain at least a couple of stunning songs but none can really compete with the eighties albums in terms of cohesive quality. In an average The Fall album, there are a couple of outstanding songs, three nice songs and the remainder is middle-of-the-road. In a really great The Fall album, you have at least five stand-out songs and the remainder is really nice too.

The Real New Fall lp is a really great album in which the band finally manages to maintain high quality during the whole length. The album contains two indie hits endowed with an impressive energy, catchy hooks and a sing-along or rather a ranting-along chorus: ‘Theme from Sparta FC’ –which should become an hymn for the Czech football club, an hymn to sing along with the fist clenched up in the air and yelling ‘hey’, ‘c’mon have a bet, we live on blood…- and ‘Open the boxoctosis’ which makes you unconsciously sing along ‘open the box, open the goddamn box…’ Read the lyrics if you are curious orange about what Mark E. Smith finds in it, you won’t be deceived. ‘Countraflow’ is another stand-out track making you bop the head thanks to its energy and catchy lines (‘I hate the countryside much, I hate the countraflow much’).

It’s a bit surprising to know that the opener ‘Green-eyed Loco Man’ has been released as a single but then it’s usual good nineties Fall stuff nodding in the direction of white noise. It becomes really addictive after several listening as the rest of the album (especially ‘Mountain Energy’). Finally there are two surprising tracks. ‘Protein Protection’ starts unexpectedly but powerfully like an Unwound song (‘October all over’) but Mark E. Smith is there to affirm The Fall’s idiosyncrasy. ‘Janet, Johnny and James’ is a twisted acoustic piece whose music would be half-way in-between Neon Golden by The Notwist and David Grubbs but with the glorious Mark E. Smith on lead vocals. It’s an incredible song that I would refer as schizophrenic urban folk.

The Real New Fall lp is an impressive album. Long live The Fall, a band that has influenced many others (Pixies, Pavement, lately Ikara colt…)

SEB ’middle-class revolt’ WOOd.

/aug 1st 2004/