You don’t last as long as The Fall have without learning a few things. Things like how many times you have to play the same riff before it becomes invincible, and how long you have to spend barking at people before they start treating you like a hero. Mark E. Smith is 371 in dog years. He has been barking forever, and, as The Fall enter their 34th year with their 28th studio album, a hero many times over: looping in and out of critical approval as endlessly as the snarling, nagging guitars that have underpinned his scornful non-sequiturs for decades.
Your Future Our Clutter retains both the scorn (just look at that title) and the repetition that have characterised Smith’s time on Earth, but this latest record also goes some way to proving that, while he may be an old dog with a pickled onion for a head, Mark E. Smith and The Fall are still capable of learning the odd new trick. Find proof as Smith becomes Prestwich’s own Jim Morrison on Chino, or in the drones that glue the record together.
Not that there’s anything wrong with odd, old tricks – opener O.F.Y.C. Showcase sees Smith’s familiar, vaguely incomprehensible drawl giving way to declarative vocals, guitar repetitions, go-steady drums and predatory bass loom. Bury Pts. 1 + 3 compounds the sense that this is vintage Fall by doing that old, Fall thing of turning petty complaints into strange ceremonies – “I’m not from Bury” is the gripe this time.
Complaints light up Your Future Our Clutter. Sometimes they’re direct: as on final track Weather Report 2 which contains a number of brilliantly wry lines – “Nobody has ever called me Sir in my entire life”; “Forget about Jacksons, what about Saxons”; and “You don’t deserve rock n’ roll” chief among them.
But perhaps this album’s most brilliant moment – it’s most thrilling and least explicit complaint – belongs to Cowboy George. Setting off in a Bo Diddley-esque, guitar matador shuffle, it’s the completely absurd, incongruous sampling of Daft Punk that really epitomises what The Fall have always been about – Smith seemed to realise very early on that time has its own destiny and, as such, more important things to worry about than pop music. Hipsters, slaves to the day, be damned – The Fall will abide: they have broken out of time, and exist slightly away from the rest of us. They are, as Smith proclaims on Mexico Wax Solvent, “Invincible”. --Kev Kharas
Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window