This Nation's Saving Grace finds The Fall in typical swagger. Bombast, the first track proper following an instrumental opener, is delivered with a force that renders its performance less a statement of intent than a full-blown manifesto. But beyond frontman Mark E Smith's trademark truculence and his band's by then long-established mantra of repetition (repetition repetition), the record shows flourishes that point beyond the group's artfully studied minimalism. Recent addition and Smith spouse Brix lends synth sheen to the slick LA, giving the lie to her husband's "if you can't play it like a garage band, f- it" ethos, and bonus track Cruisers Creek, a high point of the reissued album, manages to configure country rock and garage punk as long-lost brothers reunited. The clear Krautrock influence, manifest since Two Steps Back on their '79 debut, is explicitly heralded in the Can tribute I Am Damo Suzuki - a standout track which can be paid no higher tribute than that it would fit quite comfortably on the setlist of either group.
For those new to The Fall, This Nation's Saving Grace is an ideal place to start, edging out the more accessible The Wonderful and Frightening World Of with a stronger set of songs, by turns both scathing and playful - and more focussed and consistent than many of their many records. If you don't like this album, then you don't like The Fall - here Smith and the band applied the full range of their wit, passion, invention and conviction.