Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Fall's "Your Future, Our Clutter": Music Review

A solid rock: thrown, dusty, thudding like adobe. Clean & consistent? For a Fall record, is this praise? Indeed.

The production's snappy and the instrumentation-- same line-up as "Imperial Wax Solvent," (see my review)-- stays sharp. While I miss the chanted, catchier tunes of mid-decade "Real New Fall Album" & "Fall Heads Roll," their best from the '00s, this resembles "IWS" with its more keyboard-driven, vamping sound similar to mid-80s Fall. With this band, great eons of time pass between line-ups, fallow and fertile periods, and attitudes of Mark E. Smith, his partner or lack, and whomever he recruits or demotes in turn every few years, or months.

The stability of this backing band therefore shows similarities with the preceding CD. And "Mexican Wax Solvent" dutifully blends south-of-the-border airs with "IWS" electronics; "Chino" queasily wrenches rhythms into am aural hangover a few songs later. There's a twangy air in the mix that recalls Western bleakness and Tex-Mex raw, weathered decay. "Weather Report 2" seems to revisit 1988's bouncy "I Am Curious (Orange)" but with a bleary nod ("I gave you the best years of my life") to the past legacy of Smith and his sonic youth.

The album runs rapidly. Many Fall records have fifteen or so songs and often falter towards their finish. Brevity and clarity work here for a tougher, more chewed-off and spit-out delivery from vocalist and band that hurries this along in more hectic fashion. For a 53-year-old singer, I admire this performance. The musicians support MES in quick step and the combined march of leader and followers makes for a healthy workout that players half the age of the singer might be flummoxed to match. It's a trimmed-down, bulked-up hefty sound that races past rather than lumbers by.

So, rewarded by attention to coherence and a focus on concision, I give it as I did "IWS" four stars for a strong effort. From the 2000-2010 era, it's (arguably as any Fall fan will agree) probably a contender for third but no more than fourth out of the last ten studio creations. It has bashing backing, grumbling keyboards that veer off on tangents, garage-rock basics, predictable mid-song digressions ("Bury Parts 1-3" takes you through the evolution of a song) and an obscure cover stomped through, Wanda Jackson's 1961 "Funnel of Love." With a band so long in pedigree-- this the 28th studio effort-- it's as if I'm listening to a distant cousin of the '78 début, but as any fan admits, it's the same band only different with each year, each new CD. I keep listening, and how many of you can say that to any functioning band still issuing original material every year, one that started in the middle of the 70s?

P.S. It's good to find them on Domino. Perhaps they and Clinic will tour together? For back catalogues in handy compilations, try "Complete Peel Sessions: 1978-2004" and "The Fall Box Set: 1976-2007" (both reviewed by me on Amazon US as was this CD last month).

No comments: