While loads of bands are currently flocking to the late-'70s and early-'80s postpunk set (only to run into the obstacle of sounding too retro), the Fall can be as old-school as it wants to be. After all, the band helped invent the art-damaged disposition of postpunk in the first place. And now, releasing their first album in five years, singer-songwriter Mark E. Smith and his mates prove they don't have to abandon the idiosyncratic sound they patented more than two decades ago to remain relevant today.
Remastered by Smith to achieve a raw, stripped-down feel, TRNFLP ... FCOTC sounds like a gem from '79. His cynical sneer escapes him like a bitter, slurring English drunk, while catchy, distorted riffs and dirty, slap-happy beats replay themselves again and again in the back. The intensely infectious "Open the Boxoctosis" features a playful, swinging guitar, bass rumbling in suspension, and never-ending pleas to Open the goddamn box! (While making subtle suggestions, Smith leaves the box' contents up to the listener's imagination.) The sluggish, dreary "Janet, Johnny+James" feels like a lost Velvet Underground track, while the high-energy opener "Green Eyed Loco Man" rushes in with thunderous guitar work. And "Theme from Sparta FC" is built on a smashing beat, witty guitar line, and occasional backup Hey! -- dancing to it is unavoidable.
The Fall doesn't have to filter through the past; the Fall owns it. And with an album like this, we're glad the band's sticking to it.
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