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Fall Heads Roll

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Mark E. Smith has always gotten the best out of his musicians. He has a gift for bringing sounds together in unorthodox ways that take on a life of their own. "Ride Away" is sparse, relying on Ben Pritchard's slashing guitar, Elena Poulou's elementary keyboards, and Smith's near-tuneful delivery. From this deliberately lumpy delivery, the album hits its stride. "Pacifying Joint" spotlights drummer Spencer Birtwistle's supple rhythm bouncing with Poulou's keyboard (which again drives the melody). A cover of The Move's "I Can Hear the Grass Grow" is another excellent reinvention of an unexpected cover. "Bo Demmick" rides Steve Trafford's sturdy bass line as Smith prattles on in pure Fall fashion. Trafford has several vocal turns, highlighted by the acoustic waltz "Early Days of Channel Fuhrer." Meanwhile, "Trust in Me" is—even by Fall standards—a stylistic departure featuring several guest vocalists. However, "Blindness" is a purebred Fall grinder that exemplifies everything that's magnificent about the Mark E. Smith songwriting schematic.


Formed: 1977 in Manchester, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Out of all the late-'70s punk and post-punk bands, none are longer lived or more prolific than the Fall. Throughout their career, the band underwent myriad lineup changes, but at the center of it all was vocalist Mark E. Smith. With his snarling, nearly incomprehensible vocals and consuming, bitter cynicism, Smith became a cult legend in indie and alternative rock. Over the course of their career, the Fall went through a number of shifts in musical style, yet the foundation of their sound was a near-cacophonous,...
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