Top critical review
26 people found this helpful
on 15 May 2013
After delivering 3 middling albums this current line up of The Fall has delivered on it's promise and delivered a shockingly poor album. This is the worst Fall album since Are You Are Missing Winner, even worse than the tame Fall Heads Roll.
Re-mit is lazy, drab album, short on ideas and verve. More than frustrating, the album is annoying. After the pointless instrumental opener "No Respects" ("Mansion" it is not)along comes "Sir William Wray", not a bad song at all with it's choppy guitars and shouts of "Hey!", behind which Mark mumbles his lyrics from the corridor outside the studio. Catchy it may be but could be any number of "indie" guitar bands.
Part of the problem for me lies with the current line up. While Pete, Dave and Kieran are dynamic enough live, in the studio they have proved to be consistently flat. All good musicians but they seem to be playing the roles of session musicians - faceless yes- men who won't stand up to Mark. While MES has always been the undoubted leader you always had the feeling that the band was a collaborative process and that Hanley and Scanlon et al had as much input as Mark. The previous line up, The Dudes, not only had better musicians but you got the impression that they actually worked with Mark, not for Mark. Reformation Post TLC might not be perfect but it has the feeling of Mark and The Dudes working together with some moments of levity and banter. The current crop just seem to provide good, but formulaic riffs without having the nerve to tell Mark that his cut and paste vocals on this album really aren't up to much. Much has been made of the fact this line up has been together for 4 albums, is this because they dont rock the boat and toe the line? Is Mark better with people around him who can cause some tension? The Fall seem to have gotten very complacent, time has proved that Mark works best when no one expects The Fall to make a comeback, but nowadays each album gets nice reviews and mentions on Newsnight Review and interviews take the time to fawn over him.
The blame surely rests with Mark. He has a producers credit on this one. Throughout the album he growls and the vocals are either buried in the mix or cut and pasted into a self indulgent, pretentious mess. What's concerning is, is all this just a mask for the fact he can no longer write like he used to? He's always had vocal tics - yelping, the infamous "-ah's" but you could still make out the words. Now that Mark sounds like Captain Beefheart choking on a wasp it sounds like an attempt to stop you hearing what the lyrics have become. The highlight (for me) of previous LP Ersatz GB was "Nate Will Not Return" with it's tortuous rhymes of Nate / crate / irate. All of which now sounds like dazzling wordplay in the shadow of Re-Mit. Lets look at the songs: "Kinder Of Spine" is about a spider and "Jetplane" is about being stuck in a queue in Italy. OK, Mark's songs have always been cryptic but you always came away with some ideas and you always got great lines. There's nothing here to enjoy or get you thinking. When the album had limped to an end I found it difficult to believe this was from the same man who wrote such great songs as "The NWRA" and "Jawbone And The Air Rifle"...
The Fall used to overflow with songs, material like "Backdrop" that would never see a studio version and storming pop hits like "One Day" that would get buried as obscure album tracks. No one expects a man in his 50s to produce the same body of work as in his 20s but both quantity and quality seemed to have been compromised. Just look at the songs titles: "Irish", "Jetplane", "Jam Song" and "Loadstones"? Hardly "Lie Dream Of A Casino Soul" is it? And "Jam Song?" if any musician in the 80s had suggested calling a song "Jam Song" he or she would have been fired on the spot (of after a long haul flight to Australia)
Re-Mit has a lazy feeling permeating it. OK it has 12 songs but one is a short, bland version of the long, bland version. "Noise" is another slice of studio f*rting about which you can forgive on albums with a high quality (who cares if The Infotainment Scan has "Light And Fireworks" when it has a "Past Gone Mad"?) but here it's presence is annoying when you're waiting for some classic Fall songs to appear. "Pre MDMA Years" is more of the same, with Mark struggling to wrap his false teeth around "MDMA". This leaves us with 11 songs and I believe, "Victrola Time" is "Damflicters" which was released as a single a while back. "Irish" is a vaguely amusing piece but goes on for 3 minutes far too long. Mark used to be a beacon of spite, sarcasm and vitriol, a cackling malevolent sprite, now he sounds like he's using time up before retirement.
I struggled to finish Re-Mit (and not in the way I never finish Perverted By Language because "Hexen Definitive" feels out of place) and that's a terrible thing to say. I had to listen to live versions of "The Classical" to recover. But the worrying thing is can they can come back from this rut of laziness, complacency and diminished writing skill (?)? Where is the next "Blindness" coming from?
The only enlightening thing about the album is that now I know how Fall-haters hear the Fall. When they wail "it's just a drunk man ranting random phrases" you argue that he is one of the finest lyricists Britain has produced. But here... he just sounds like a bus station tramp.