28 November 2015

The Fall - Sub-Lingual Tablet

There is nothing quite like the The Fall; you are never truly ready for your first introduction them and mine was in 1992 around the time they released ‘Code: Selfish’ and the song "Everything Hutrz" (this is the correct spelling before I get told off by the grammar police - aka Luke).  It is a noisy little number that one of my friends used during a college project to make a music video and ever since then I have been checking out ever since.  Now there is no such thing as a brief history when it comes to The Fall, the only constant member has been Mark E. Smith and on this album he is joined by Peter Greenway, Elena Poulou, David Spurr, Keiron Melling & Daren Garratt.  This is their thirty first studio album and it follows the 2013 'Re:Mit'.  You cannot plan for your first Fall album and if you are reading this then you have probably already experienced the joy that is this band or you are about to commence a journey down a wonderful rabbit hole. 

Starting the album is “Venice with the Girls” which is your general indie rock feedback which The Fall have done for years; it has a strange chorus, Mark E. Smith is crooning with that distinctive voice that we have all come to love/hate/rejoice/ignore (delete as per your personal view – I love it, it suits the music perfectly).  It bounces along with a great energy and it is full of personal observations about the world, in terms of songs by The Fall – job done.  “Black Door” is a short interlude with a feel of art house cinema, it sound like it could be the backdrop to some crazy ass murder scene or a woman eating a pineapple without taking off the skin.  Once more, it is something that these guys and girls have done for years and for me it sounds brilliant – it is just different from a lot of other music out there (thank the deity).  With a rumbling bass you have “Dedication not Medication” pulsing through your sound system, the drums feel as if they are itching to explode and there are random noises coming from the speakers as well – then Mark E. Smith starts again and it is all very sparse and contrasting.  It is exactly the sort of song I love from these guys and should scare any charva who come within 20 feet of it.  It is a beautiful number that deserves to be heard.

“First One Today” is next and it sounds as if various pieces of metal are being used in the percussions, the keyboard is being put through a slow tango, the bass is really holding it together and the guitars are playing a punked up rock & roll riff as Mr Smith muses about the world.  It is a song which will make so much sense to me and I have played it many times and it still give me that buzz that only The Fall can, but it is also one which I know will have people scratching their heads.  It is not for everyone and that is the way it should be.  It is the same with “Junger Cloth” which is one of the best song on the album, it really is one of the most aggressive songs on this album and it is also one of the most tuneful that I have ever heard from The Fall.  The opening section was stuck in my head for ages after I first heard it, I love it when crazy alternative post punk is stuck there.  This is a slow song with menace and bad intentions, it is such a good song.  “Stout Man” is a song that has a punk heart as it smashes its way across your head with its fast guitar, snarling lyrical delivery and general noisy attitude to the world.   Short, sharp and to the point, it just smashing through one wall and out of the other – another great song on this album.  “Auto Chip 2014-2015” takes some of the aggression out of the music, but not that much as they sound as if they are heading towards the horizon with no intent of stopping.  It is a ten minute plus epic which never losses your focus, even when the band are sounding as if they are drifting from that original point of origin.  It is just a great post-punk song that gives so much, what is there not to love.

“Pledge” sounds a bit sleazy to these ears, the bass is low slung and the drums are keeping everything together as the keyboard dominates this number.  Mark E. Smith starts of very gentle and then he comes at you with all the aggression you can expect form a man who has been doing things his way for all his life and is not about to stop now.  It is not as focused as other numbers seem to be, but that does not change how good this song actually sounds and it just fills me with a great sense of wonder and joy at this noise-rock lunacy.  With a fade in “Snazzy” which is a gentler beast, but it is always in a given sense of the word gentler when you are talking about The Fall.  It is more post-rock brilliance that you can get lost in once you have discovered the key, it is actually very accessible compared to other pieces that the band have done which is something that might upset people – but fuck ‘em, when it sounds this good who cares.  The penultimate song is called “Fibre Book Troll” and it starts with some strange buzzing that gives way to a tune that can only be described as the bastard offspring of The Fall, Neu! and Can; it just evokes a krautrock feeling as the band go with the flow here and you can get lost in the drone nature of the music.  This is the best song on this album as it does not give you a moment’s piece and smashing everything else out of the park.  “Quit iPhone” ends the album on another diatribe from Mark E. Smith and this time it is about the iPhone culture and all smart phones if we are honest.  It is a simple post-punk piece which has a great, aggressive rant that is long overdue to tell the truth.  It ends the album on a big fuck you and I would not have it any other way.

These guys can be seen as the prototype for bands like Sleaford Mods and Pulp to exist and why the late & great John Peel championed them – they have influenced more acts that you can imagine and this album is proof that they are not finished and anyone who thought so will be sorry for that mistake.  You are taken on another brilliant noise trip that will please their fans (including myself).  There has never been another band like them and there never will be one again, all hail The Fall!

9 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost….

Top track – Fibre Book Troll

You can purchase Sub-Lingual Tablet on Amazon here 

You can visit The Fall website here 

You can also visit this fan-based website here as well 

This album is not on any streaming sites.

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