Posted by: Nick Walters | July 14, 2013

The Fall: Re-Mit

The-Fall-Re-Mit-590x608

Fuck you, Anton Corbijn!

This is the most fun Fall album, I think ever. Mark E. Smith is in fine form, and from the evidence of the three gigs I attended around the time of this album’s release, he is a happy man enjoying the adulation he so deserves. At last, he realises that he IS appreciated!

Re-Mit is the fourth album with the current line-up, and arguably the best, though comparing Fall albums is fruitless: they’re ALL the best.

The cover is hideous, and not in a good “Fall” way like Hex Enduction Hour or Are You Are Missing Winner. Everything about it is ugly: the painting, the font, that horrid orange colour, those eyes – it’s atrocious.  You could argue the “so bad it’s good” line, but I’ve been looking at the thing for over 2 months now (not continuously!) and, to me anyway, it’s just bad. Which is sort of good, in a way. Brave of them to go with something so amateurish. It makes a statement: can’t see U2 or Coldplay or Radiohead ever going with something like this – they’d spend thousands on some pretentious art-wank. The Fall don’t do that, The Fall don’t play the game. The Fall are outside, above the game. Or play by the rules of a game that no-one else understands. As ever, it’s the music that matters.

And so to it.  On first listening, Re-Mit seems unbalanced: all the “weird” stuff is on “Side 1” (i.e. the first 6 tracks) and “Side 2” is a solid  run of “normal” (well, as far as The Fall are concerned) songs. (This recalls 2008’s Imperial Wax Solvent, and Re-Mit shares a lot of IWS’s manic glee.) After a few listens, this makes sense and the structure of the album takes shape.

It opens with a brief instrumental fanfare, No Respects Intro, a jolly, summery piece which recalls Brix’s Overture from Kurious Oranj and other jangly pearls from that era. The next track, single Sir William Wray, continues this sound. It’s a chaotic cousin of Cruiser’s Creek and it is utterly fantastic. The guitar/synth/bass interplay is a joy to behold and it never fails to cheer. That’s right – happy Fall! Do you think we fans like them if they were all doom and gloom? Peter Greenway’s guitar plays a slippery riff and Eleni’s keyboards almost – but not quite – keep time. Mark E. Smith opens the song – and the album – with the “words”  “G-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g -GSSSHHH!” and then proceeds to mouth mostly wordless variations on the song title. If we were in Jacques and Berni’s Philosophical Steakhouse we might say that SWW is a Dadaist deconstruction of the pop song. But we aren’t so we won’t. Its “’merely” a top Fall tune.

Kinder of Spine follows, a hilarious primitive garage riff over which MES sings in a curiously plaintive voice things like “help me Spider!”’ Eleni’s keys are especially satisfying here. It’s utterly bonkers in a way only The Fall could ever get away with.

Next is Noise, the first of what we in Fall fandom call “pisstracks’ (i.e. bits of songs that aren’t songs, often to be found lingering at the arse end of Fall albums. Sometimes these are great, other times… not so much). Over churning, burbling electronics, Mark engages in some light lambasting of guitarist “Nasty noise Peter” Greenway. All done in good spirits, probably, though it’s hard to tell. Be interesting to know what Greenway thinks of this, especially coming so soon after the song bearing his name on the last album. The track overstays its welcome a little, and, after many listens, becomes the only skippable track on Re-Mit.

Hittite Man follows, a thunderous bass-monster very much in the style of Chino and Monocard from the previous two albums. Greenway’s guitar etches out a vaguely surf-rock riff and Mark tells the story of a Hittite Man who “emerges from the ground, white robes, he says, you don’t hear me.” It must be said at this point that Mark is in excellent voice here and throughout, this album is one of his best vocal performances, well, ever. Some people, however, might not like the way he closes this song by noisily clearing his throat and hocking one up. Nasty, but funny – and could you see U2 or Coldplay ever doing this sort of thing?

Then we get Pre-MDMA Years – another pisstrack, this time shorter and better than Noise, but by this point of the album, on first listen, you begin to wonder when it’ll really get going. It’s only on subsequent listens does the structure make sense. Anyway, this is an enjoyable piece, with MES’s double-tracked vocals over a jaunty synth belch, seeming to have a go at those who try to bracket periods of history with convenient monikers. Though whatever period of history “bone serration unconnected compulsive years” refers to is anyone’s guess. “Stacey” is also mentioned again, having first appeared in Hittite Man alongside ? and Dave. Who she is, is a complete mystery to all but MES; though someone has pointed out it could be a mutation of the word “ecstasy” which does tie in to the title.

No more pisstracks after this – from now on it’s a solid run of songs, kicking off with No Respects Rev, which reprises and expands on the opening track, and sort of re-kickstarts the album. It’s a fun, sunny Fall track, with an extended repetitious ending which builds and builds. Next up, my personal favourite, Victrola Time. Built around an insanely catchy two-chord synth riff, this krautrocks like a motherfucker, and features MARK E. SMITH’S MOST MENTAL VOCAL EVER. Just think about that for a moment, and let its implications sink in. Believe me, on hearing this for the first time you will experience real fear. It’s like that bit on that Scott Walker album, you know, when he starts quacking like a duck. THAT mental. Only better because it’s The Fall.

Irish contains the oft-quoted line about James Murphy which I won’t quote here. Classic Fall, built around a belligerent, sinister riff, with excellent Greenway guitar abuse. Jetplane is next, a really curious sounding piece, with an almost medieval sounding flute thing. This sees the return of the Fall “story song” and tells the tale of two inventors’ inspiration in an Italian airport.

Jam Song is the least immediate track on Re-Mit. The guitar, drums and bass all bash out a non-tune and the melody is carried by atonal synth-noodlings in the right channel. The lyrics seem to be about some sort of mind control experiment, which recalls Riddler! from Bend Sinister. The hardest track to get a handle on but it repays repeated listening. Loadstones ends the album, and although I think this song has been too highly praised, it’s still a good ‘un.

So, another great Fall album. It’s almost embarrassing, for the rest of music. Nothing can possibly compare! Album of the year, without question.

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Responses

  1. Mark E.Smith is unique, there´s no difference between his early years and the last ones: the same anti-everything attitude, the same repetitive psychobilly-krautrockish post-punk music that defies categorisations, the same bitterness. Smith might never have been punk but he is the only fellow that comes in mind when I think of “punk”.
    “Re-mit” is excellent, unlike its 2011 predecessor “Ersatz GB”


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