The Fall have come a long way since signing to Miles Copeland’s Step Forward label way back in 1977: more than 30 studio releases under their belt; nearly 70 past-members; different record label signings in the double figures. Recently, however, the band has come into an unexpected bout of rude health. Their current line-up is their most consistent for five years. Their most recent releases have reviewed to much acclaim, and they have announced a number of tour dates in the UK.
So as natural as the changing of the seasons …there is a new album from The Fall released in 2015.
So what do we know about it? Well it's called Sub-Lingual Tablet and it’s just been released on Cherry Red Records. It was recorded with this line-up: Mark E. Smith with Peter Greenway (guitar); Keiron Melling (drums); Elena Poulou (keyboards and vocals), and David Spurr (bass)
Each decade throws up its own The Fall classic. The 70s had Live At The Witch Trials, the 80’s had Hex Enduction Hour, the 90s had The Infotainment Scan and the 00s had The Unutterable.
From initial first listens of Sub-Lingual Tablet and The Remainderer EP that preceded it, MES and co. seem to be heading in wilder, nail-bitey, gutter rock direction, with increased reliance on percussion and bass. Riffs scratch through craniums right from the off. The main man is shouting in a coarse, hoarse and relentless tone.
His lyrics are distorted, almost inaudible, repetitive and whilst topical are often nonsensical (although repeated listens does bring their meaning to life). Distortion in instrumentation goes hand in hand with distorted vocals within The Fall. Whilst the band have previously been known to be world-beaters at a “loud-then-quiet” style of song construction, that style has transferred away from the instrumentation and manifested into Mark E Smith’s voice box.
Mark now has developed his singing ability although sometimes he prefers a “gargling with Listerine” baritone. He switches from delicate, dulcet murmur of vocal to a rasping gnarly and gargoyle-esque war cry. Abrasiveness has obviously always been favoured by MES, harking back to the days when he was reportedly horrified at the idea of John Leckie giving them a more refined and polished sound for the recording of This Nations’ Saving Grace. Instead Mark insisted on using the recordings from his own sonically inferior cassette copy.
Thus, it is a truism to say that The Fall go against any modern trend, fashion or cult. In a sense Mark’s lyrical prose is nearly anti-everything. He is skeptical of almost all of life’s finer details and backs this up with good reason; explained in his songs and his 2007 published autobiography, Renegade. Similarly, his lyrical net is never afraid to touch upon current topics citing the horrors of social media over sharing on “Quit IPhone” the state of music business on “Auto 2014-15” and holiday trends and fads within relationships on “Venice with the Girls.” The Fall march on.
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Sub-Lingual Tablet is out now on Cherry Red. You can get it here.