Friday, 17 May 2013

The Fall - Re-Mit


The Fall in their modern incarnation are always pushing for more, always advertising, touring, and recording. Literal genius Mark. E Smith has been the only constant member, it all revolves around his handiwork and his ability to lead from the front and almost seem invisible at the same time (as seen when playing live.) The Fall's previous effort Estratz GB fell through the cracks a little with its tense krautrock edges. As The Fall release their 30th album, we find ourselves quoting the legendary John Peel once more: "They are always different; they are always the same." Re-Mit goes beyond the electronics and simplicity of Estratz GB, rekindling that 80s post punk power with an ounce of rock r roll and a whole lot of nonsense to go with it. A minute introduction titled "No Respects (Intro)", is quite simply an impartial intro to the seventh track "No Respects Rev.". Guitars are finally back in motion with riffs galore and distortion, as the one minute instrumental comes to a steady end - cue MES. it's almost inevitable that Smith starts off Re-Mit with an anti-something. Lyrical nonsense and vocal repetition are mainstays in The Fall's 30 album discography and "Sir William Wray" is no different. It's a prime addition to the 'single material', however it's not much of a lyrical present for the 30th anniversary fans. There's a striking lead guitar riff and distinctive synthesizer accompaniment from Elena Poulou. It ends just as it began, loud guitars with distortion, Smith singing without an enunciation and a sudden stop.

Re-Mit is surprisingly child-like, on the third track "Kinder of Spine" Smith sings in a withdrawn voice: "SPIDER! Dear spider, hello spider, help me spider." That sense of surreality is always associated with Smith's often cryptic lyricism. This track has ferocious distorted vocal and an even angrier right sided lead guitar that matches the bass. The listener will be able to recognise the playful fairground-esque synthesizer on the left and the soft drum pattern. Smith's happy side is featured throughout Re-Mit, especially on the fourth track "Noise", which sounds like a track The Fall would play live just to introduce the band in an original fashion. Smith talks about guitarist Peter Greenway and bassist David Spurr. When introducing Spurr, Smith says in a welcoming voice: "Behind nasty noise Peter, here he is now... David's warrior, warrior of the dark forest."

"Pre-MDMA Years" has Smith talking over a spongy Poulou synthesizer riff. Good luck singing this one live as it’s intensely layered. Smith's drug referencing goes along way, confusingly in its short one minute stint. He sings: "Thanks E C Stacy the present child of yours you prove for own child years," E C Stacy - Ecstasy - MDMA, yeah, smart thinking and speaking from Smith. The Fall's characteristic song structure is one of odd time signatures and poetry instead of verse / chorus / verse. Leading straight in to "No Respect Rev.", The Fall band members embark on their strongest instrumental in their current form. Greenway's guitar is fantastic mirroring that of Your Future, Our Clutter in style, with the distortion and grit found on the old 80s records created by Craig Scanlon. Poulou continues her sweet synthesizer accompaniment which has become an important instrument in The Fall's sound. The tempo increases as Greenway's guitar work vigorously stretches the volume level. 

The longest track "Hittite Man" has Greenway apply heavy reverb to his accustom distorted guitar for the first time on Re-Mit. The spacious atmosphere created suits Smith's stark and bold voice. He almost sounds joyful singing this track, with more surges of Poulou's synthesizer. Spurr's deep and heavy bass is reminiscent to the dub like instrumentals found on Public Image Limited records, and Greenway's reverberated guitar defends this. Smith ends this track with what can only be described as breathing? choking? coughing? right in the path of the microphone for a good 14 seconds.

Re-Mit has a lighter aesthetic to past The Fall albums. It's not always fair to compare the many Fall albums because of the different members and such, however it sounds right to place Re-Mit in a high position after Estratz GB so bitterly disappointed not only me, but a large following of Fall fans. Smith continues to impress even after 29 albums worth, take "Jetplane", the least Smith-esque track on the album, most probably written in most by Poulou. Looking at the sentence structure, Smith wouldn’t be able to carve our sentences longer than five words, let alone sing them. He performs wonders on "Jetplane" as the band deliver a rock tale with an emphasis on the percussion and synthesizer. Smith's story-telling attributes are down to his spoken word style of 'singing', if you want to call this singing. He says: "And to make matters worse, some sort of Rock group was holding up things also, they were bringing albums and euros into Heathrow." Poulou interprets at times to deliver an Italian vocal, a nice touch to the song about airport bureaus.

You don't get this wackiness and eccentricity in any other band. The Fall is the work of Smith and it's as if he commissions his band members to create a musical backing to his poetry. Imagine Smith in a studio organising song structure, you can’t. You envision him in the room next door reading Aristotle with a pint, listening to Zappa waiting for the band to come up with something to use. Smith has faith in his band members and they've delivered the best piece of music on a The Fall album since Fall Heads Roll. Smith is jolly on Re-Mit, a surprise change from his grunting state on Estratz GB. The music also takes a cheerful manner on tracks like "Irish" and "Victrola Time". The first having a danceable groove to it and the latter being lifted from The Fall's 2012 Record Store Day release.

The Fall manage to stay relevant and even fun in 2013. Closing track "Loadstones" is an instantly likeable track. What's not to like about Smith shouting a single word, I’m sure fans have missed this. He shouts: "Local!" putting emphasis on the two syllables of the word, you know what I'm talking about. It closes the album with a big sign of continuity. Yes, there has now been 30 albums fronted by Smith, and I’m positive he has another 10 - 15 left in him. He will be writing lyrics up until his death, that's guaranteed. Smith's strange and chaotic persona has disintegrated in to a drunken northerner in the 00s. Though he was this in the 70s, 80s, and 90s to be quite honest. Re-Mit is the start of the thirties for The Fall. This album isn't flawless, but it's plentiful in originality. Greenway / Poulou / Melling and Spurr finally have a blissful album they can enjoy playing live. We will wait and see what Smith and co can come up with next, but for now album number 30 will do and please fans of The Fall for many a year.
~Eddie

7.8

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