The Fall

Sharon Stone makes another movie, bands of the 1978-1982 epoch reunite, technology advances, trans-fats are banned — yet The Fall persevere, with Mark E. Smith the sole remaining founding member. Tart-tongued leader Smith still rants like he's got the world's number, though portions of Reformation find phone-it-in weariness creeping in. Smith still has that knack for populating The Fall with whip-smart youths who've the right proportions of rock 'n' roll chops and minimalism/restraint to realize his thorny amalgam of rockabilly, dub, mid-1960s garage rock, and early '70s Krautrock. "Reformation" and "My Door Is Never" pulse with the sleek, wiry, amphetamine/caffeine-driven rush of Can and Neu! in their respective primes, putting fellow travelers Stereolab to shame. The pretty, Byrds-like chiming guitar refrain of "Coach and Horses" is a nice novel touch, and there's a goofy cover of Merle Haggard's "White Line Fever" where Smith sounds as if he has narcolepsy. Where RPTLC stumbles: "The Bad Stuff" is filler with "avant-garde" pretensions (snatches of garbled conversation, odd tempo changes, etc.) and "Outro" is just inane doodling. For the most part, this latest chapter of The Fall's oeuvre is a good holding action — non-believers will remain unimpressed, devotees will be sated, and it's a good intro point for neophytes.


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