Like pigeons, the council dog catcher, street drinkers and the Queen, it feels like The Fall have always been with us. One day they will disappear and we will wonder who we are without Mark E. Smith’s free-form jeremiads against modernity, mediocrity and sobriety.
Long-time Fall watchers will know that the band’s work now oscillates between basic, bloody-minded rockabilly-punk (see 1979′s Dragnet or Fall Heads Roll from 2005) and eccentric electronics (1990′s Extricate). This 30th full album since 1976 — does Smith get some kind of medal? — is chiefly of the first kind, a stabby, back-to-basics thrash with enough bile for a band a quarter their age and few adornments.
The Fall’s current line-up is surprisingly stable with no sackings since 2006, and they’re very much up to their historic task of combining the sounds of Link Wray and Can. The no-frills “Sir William Wray” and “No Respects rev.” hurtle along on repurposed ’50s riffs, although “Hittite Man” — possibly celebrating the Bronze Age chariot-building civilization, possibly not – is gentler and rather beautiful.
Though it’s dependably exciting and as comical as ever (see “Kinder Of Spine” for Smith arguing with a spider) there is in truth not much here that adds to The Fall’s wonderful and frightening world. The miracle is that they’re still at it, still so driven and undimmed by compromise. New listeners will probably better acquire the Fall habit with A World Bewitched (Best of 1990-2000) or 1993′s spectacular The Infotainment Scan. The committed will find that, as ever, there’s no Fall album like a new Fall album.