Friday, June 21, 2013

The Fall - Re-Mit

We’re on album number thirty. Try to keep up.

I’m almost tempted to encourage any Fall noobs to start with their latest, Re-Mit, which is exactly as Mark E. Smith described it when he offered, “Re-Mit is going to absolutely terrify people. It’s quite horrible.”

It is exactly as he described and more easily understood than anything coming out of his mouth throughout large portions of the record. He’s unintelligible now and seemingly proud of it. Mark E. Smith has finally turned his gurgle into a fucking instrument; it’s high in the mix and he explores a wide variety of gutturals, culminating into a coughing and wheezing fit at the end of “Hittite Man.

I shit you not.

It’s disgusting. It’s fascinating. And it’s as good as anywhere else in their catalog to start. I mean, if you can deal with the sound of actual phlegm coming out of a 56 year-old man, then you’ll have a blast with the rest of The Fall’s remaining 29 records.

This version of The Fall has now circumnavigated M.E.S.’ temperament for longer than any other line-up in their history, and their unifying interplay finds a good balance between Smith’s more idiosyncratic pull and the general public’s need for things like melody and chorus.

That’s not to suggest that Re-Mit is by any means accessible. It is not, but it is a tad more bouncy by Fall standards. Part of that is because keyboardist/wife Eleni Poulou now seems to be imposing more of her influence into the band mix, drawing obvious comparisons to the band’s other notable influence in M.E.S.’ life, BrixSmith-Start.

But where Brix made inroads in expanding The Fall’s reach with more orthodox arrangements, Poulou stays true to the band’s other constant: its passion for garage rock. Poulou brings new tones and possibilities to the mix, giving Re-Mit more character than such disappointments like Ersatz GB. In the band’s recent volley between impressive and passive, Re-Mit is firmly entrenched as a noteworthy offering, yielding no calls for M.E.S. to throw in the towel while remaining as challenging as they’ve ever been.

Quick note: the packaging of Re-Mit is completely worthless, consisting of a lone, one-page sleeve with a cover that looks like a Victorian version of J.J. Evans’ mural from the title sequence of Good Times. For real: if you absolutely must have the physical product for this Fall release, drop the extra on the vinyl if you’re able. Otherwise, the digital version will suit you fine while the material within those ones and zeros stays true to the band’s legendary course.

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