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Country On the Click

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Album Review

Two years and 32 compilations, box sets, books, DVDs, and so on, since their last studio album (the lukewarm Are You Are Missing Winner), the Fall returned as a hungry, grumpy band once again with the excellent The Real New Fall L.P. (Formerly Country on the Click). The subtitle is a reference to the fact that even the Fall aren't exempt from having early versions of albums leaked to the Internet, but it could just as well be a way to separate the album from the numerous substandard releases. One listen to the opening "Green Eyed Loco-Man" (a rare love song from the group) and it's easy to see the band is trying harder than it had lately. A higher percentage of leader Mark E. Smith's lyrics are audibly intelligible, and his writing has returned to the jocular and enthusiastic style fans adore. "Mountain Energei" may be the second song in recent memory that Smith has written about credit problems, but he delivers the song with that wry authority that makes him special, rhyming Dolly Parton and Lord Byron over a skipping beat. Musicwise, the 2003 band is tight enough to handle the album's twist and turns, sounding garage and punk on "Open the Boxoctosis #2" and like Can when they really throbbed on "Last Commands of Xyralothep via M.E.S." The antipastoral anthem "Contraflow" ("I hate the countryside/so much") and the football hooligan commentary "Theme From Sparta F.C." ("stay at home/with TV set") are rocking highlights. Producer Grant Showbiz's contribution is as crisp and complimentary as it was on The Unutterable while new keyboardist Elini Poulou fills the melodic hole left by Julia Nagle's exit. Making up for some momentum lost last time out, The Real New Fall L.P. gives the faithful another reason to believe.

Biography

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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