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Fall Heads Roll

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Album Review

Having exorcised enough bile for two bands on their rickety release Interim, the Fall loosen up their attitude, tighten up their delivery, and squeeze out a rocking album that relies heavily on its highlights. Fortunately, there's plenty, most hitting with the thwack of the "Sparta FC" single or the Light User Syndrome album. "Pacifying Joint" is a punchy exercise in hooks and sheen, "What About Us" is snide Mancabilly of the highest order, and "Blindness" hypnotizes and chugs its way into the Top 25 original Fall tracks ever. Flashiest of the lot has to be a soaring cover of the Move's hippy anthem "I Can Hear the Grass Grow," a raucous singalong adaptation that brings sweet reminders of the group's take on the Kinks' "Victoria." Bringing up the second line are the usual brainy meanders like "Bo Demmick" and "Youwanner," plus the hip-shaking rave-up "Clasp Hands." Less ambitious songs and quirky numbers like the country-bumpkin reggae "Ride Away" and the lazy, acoustic "Early Days of Channel Führer" round out the album well, but some B-side-worthy leftovers tacked onto the end keep this from being Dragnet — or Country on the Click, for that matter. Instead of just stealing the riff, "Breaking the Rules" would do better if it actually turned into "Walk Like a Man" and the Mark E. Smith-less "Trust in Me" is a fair Placebo-meets-Comsat Angels track that's horribly out of place here. Vocalist/Fall czar Smith is writing and singing with plenty of purpose up to this point, and if you hack off the misguided finish, Fall Heads Roll proves they can still live up to their legend.


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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