The Fall, The Light User Syndrome

Douglas Wolk

By Douglas Wolk

on 07.11.12 in Reviews

The Light User Syndrome

The Fall

The revitalized, Brix-enhanced Fall lineup of 1996 roars out of the gate on this messy but vigorous album, their first following the firing of longtime guitarist Craig Scanlon during the eight months’ worth of sessions for their “Chiselers” single. (That exhaustively reworked song turns up on this reissue in all three of its versions.) The band essentially recorded The Light User Syndrome on their own, with Mark E. Smith coming in to add vocals at the end, and the best songs here are tight, taut and riddled with nagging hooks. It’s full of great Fall moments, like bassist Steve Hanley hammering at a low note in the cod-German “Das Vulture Ans Ein Nutter-Wain,” or the heavy-breathing give-and-take between Mark and Brix on “Spinetrak.” A half-as-long version would rank among the Fall’s best records, but too many throwaways, retreads and ill-considered covers weigh it down.