NEW FACTS EMERGE
Thirty-Second Studio Release for The Fall
On the opening track of New Facts Emerge, there is the sound of an aging man uttering guttural, incoherent noises, whilst banging percussion. The man is Mark E. Smith, who has been The Fall since 1976, hiring and firing band members and releasing records with more veracity than Dylan Thomas knocked back pints. Smith clearly still has something to say, though at times what he’s saying is lost in angry, incoherent, surreal vocals.
The music, as on Fol De Rol and the title track, is often traditional rock, with a driving, energetic razor-sharp beat. There is a touch of Indie on Brillo de Facto and O! ZZTRRK Man. There is rockabilly on Groundsboy, with Smith sounding like an Elvis from hell, and the rock ‘n’ roller Second House Now, with Smith mimicking a drunken, crooning Jerry Lee. Gibbus Gibson is much lighter, almost jaunty, with Smith sounding youthful and coherent. Couples vs Jobless Mid 30’s is the albums epic. It has a psychedelic opening, with crazy southern-gothic noises like a Texas chainsaw massacre house. Then it segues into industrial noise. There are vocals about torture, and some demonic chanting in the background, before it moves into a rock out ending. Is this what it’s like being in the head of Mark E. Smith? The songs, though tight, often sound improvised. There are hints of PIL, though Lydon is too self-aware of his own image, whilst Smith has no boundaries between his stage persona and his own reality. He is a high priest performing an exorcism on himself, spewing forth his inner demons to infect a pristine, antiseptic, virtual world. A man well before his time, channelling a groove that he’s made his own; a sullen prophet who brooks no dissent; a cranky old man railing at a ridiculous world. Often a loner can, over time, become so self-absorbed that outside influences become irrelevant and there is nobody to put a check on them as they slide into egomania. What saves Smith is that he’s so damn listenable to. Genius or piss-taker? Probably partly both. So, a genius piss taker who’s been ranting in the wilderness since 1976. One day the world will listen, and Smith won’t give a fuck.
The last song is called Nine Out Of Ten, now that’s what I call prophecy.
This review first appeared in Louder Than War magazine, issue 11 August-September 2017