Tag Archives: Mark E. Smith

The Fall – Ersatz GB

The Fall – Ersatz GB (Cherry Red)

Featuring the same band found on Your Future Our Clutter, The Fall’s twenty-ninth album sonically mirrors the previous effort with Mark E. Smith incorporating even more marbles in his mouth.

And since Clutter was such a winner, Ersatz GB is more of the same, with the only disappointment being that it’s exactly that: more of the same. The line-up has become so adept at following M.E.S.’ phlegm that they sound a bit safe at times. There’s little evidence that the whole thing could go off the rails, and because Smith sometimes works best when he’s his own worst enemy, it’s an odd feeling.

Make no mistake, Ersatz GB is not accessible enough to finally make The Fall a household name, but it is the first Fall record in quite a while that appeals exclusively to longtime fans like myself while giving novices little reason to seek out the previous 28 efforts.

Closer “Age Of Chang” does hint of a little chaos thanks to bullhorn vocals and lo-fi recording strategies that make Smith sound like some propaganda minister preaching over the airwaves while the band suddenly returns to proper fidelity. The problem is, they’ve used this strategy before, or better put Mark has used this strategy before during another lineup, decades ago.

If it was challenging then, what does that make it now?

It makes it an effort reeking of going through the motions, lazily coming to fruition because it was about that time to release another Fall record.

Ersatz GB will be the record known for giving Smith’s spouse her own entry, “Happi Song,” perhaps the most memorable tune only for the fact that it sounds nothing like the rest of the album. This isn’t to suggest that Eleni Poulou has finally reached the status of ex-wife Brix in terms of influence or talent; it merely means that one song on the album give M.E.S. time to cough up a few bits of lung and for us, a brief reprieve from the atonal monotony of The Fall’s latest document.

The Fall – Your Future Our Clutter

The Fall - Your Future Our ClutterThe FallYour Future Our Clutter (Domino)

“When do I quit?” Mark E. Smith asks listeners repeatedly during “Chino,” one of nine new offerings housed together for Your Future Our Clutter, the band’s first album in two years. The joke is that two years in between Fall albums is like an eternity. It was time well spent, and even Smith knows he’s delivered something special this time with his unmatched cynicism declaring it to be “a showcase of raw talent” a few minutes into the first track.

The concern is that M.E.S. is beginning to contemplate life after the Fall, but the optimist in me would counter that while Y.F.O.C. gives cryptic hints of finish lines, mortality, and growing old, it’s also an album where there’s a vibrancy to the production and the band is clearly on a roll as there aren’t any disruptions to the lineup since the last record, Imperial Wax Solvent.

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The Fall – Imperial Wax Solvent

The Fall - Imperial Wax SolventThe FallImperial Wax Solvent (Castle)

While Reformation Post TLC was impressive in the sense that it is coherent despite impossible odds (recorded with a last minute band after the original line-up abandoned our hero, literally, in the middle of the desert), Mark E. Smith returns with yet another Fall line-up and another even more impressive offering.

His wife, Eleni Poulou, remains in the fold on keyboards and vocals as does bassist Dave Spurr. The rest of the band is newly comprised of native English sons. But you’d have no way of guessing it from the sounds of things on Imperial Wax Solvent, probably their twenty-seventh album. Like with any Fall album, the music on their latest is drenched entirely with the open frame walls of the American garage.

How ironic that it hasn’t been offered an American release date then. But even in an elevated import-priced package, Imperial Wax Solvent is wonderfully satisfying, deserving more than just a passing nod as it’s another high-caliber, late career offering that’s as startling for its consistency as it is for its challenging aura.

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