With the majority of Post-Punk bands, consistency is seen to be invalid. In both music and members, bands progress for better or worse. The Fall have gone through an unidentified amount of member changes over the decades, experimenting with two drummers and twin bass on separate occasions. Arguably on top during the 80's with Marc Riley and Craig Scanlon as guitarists, both being noted as key members. 32 years after the bands debut, we have the 29th studio album.
The band pride themselves on repetitiveness and unusual lyrics, which Mark E Smith has delivered through a spoken word style since the early days. For a first listen on Cosmos, you're plagued with typical song structure of post 2000 The Fall. Not to say this is a bad thing, it's just predictable. It's Something which The Fall, falls short with, on every modern release. Mark gives his vocal with great necessity and anger. The aged vocals are a little off putting, however it's a fast paced Fall song which is something I expected.
We hear an improved sound on Taking Off. Which sounds very sparse and delicate, with the common synthesizer being played in parallel to the lead guitar, which is also delicate and modern sounding. This is a better direction for The Fall to take in my opinion, it has a focus on structure and melody, rather than Smiths lyrics overpowering the music. Don't get me wrong, I think Mark E Smith is one of the best lyricists around, which some may class as poetry when read. The repetitiveness, really does show in his lyrics and vocals on Note Will Not Return. It's not him being lazy, he's a rather productive 'musician', as proven by his track record. It just sounds rushed and unoriginal. You could go to a local mental hospital and write down the conversations between patients, which could create a Fall song. It's the ramblings of a mad man the same age as my Dad.
Mask Search is far more gritty, with Mark's vocals being hilarious.. "I'm so sick of Snow Patrol!" It doesn't reach new ground, it isn't catchy, it isn't experimental. It's just a straight up, simple track. Greenway touches on heavy rock, the vocals are horrible. They sound like Mark's lying on the floor trying to lift weights. The music is far more delinquent, in comparison to the other tracks. It has a respectable sound, it's loud.. It's just not very good.
Happi Song is actually sung! by Mark's wife and synth player Elena Poulou, I mean.. She's no Brix Smith, but her vocals are atypical and soft on the ear, a nice break from the hard hitting abrasive vocals. Lyrics are straight forward and repeated, with little meaning to myself, but to her and/or Mark, must mean something, i hope.. otherwise what is this? "Got no English folk music", if you can explain this, please get in touch.
The 8 minute Monocard is extremely repetitive, even for The Fall standards. It's very slow and drone like. The vocals are heavy, when they finally enter around the 2 minute mark. It doesn't have an ecliptic ending, it has some synthesized sounds which do very little. Laptop Dog is far more happier in style, but again it doesn't do anything, it goes nowhere. At this point you begin to fear what the future holds for The Fall. We know Mark will continue writing and performing under the name The Fall, it would be sad to see the unfortunate end, but for this record. It sounds like they have lost originality all together, it has very little variations and anything remotely interesting is hidden somewhere.
For better or for worse, this is one of the average Fall albums which we can place in our collections along with those egotistic albums from the 90's. It has a few great moments, with the guitar work on Taking Off and the bass on Happi Song. It's just watered down, bog standard rock for 2011. It's not bad, it's just not good.. It's average.