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The Fall

Your Future Our Clutter

[Domino; 2010]

By ; April 27, 2010 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

At one time, The Fall was a force to be reckoned with. Their 1982 album, Hex Enduction Hour, crashed upon you like a ton of bricks within the first few seconds of opening track, “The Classical”—the double drum set assault, the jangled, slightly out-of-tune punk guitars, and frontman Mark E. Smith’s acidic spoken word delivery. It was clear that The Fall was simultaneously the most serious and most flippant band to exist in the punk and post-punk circles during that time.

There is something unfair about using a band’s tour-de-force as a reference point for the rest of their 27 album discography, but in this case, it’s warranted. It’s no secret that The Fall has long been Smith’s outlet for his acerbic poetry and observations; he’s like a male version of Lydia Lunch. When spoken word is involved, one doesn’t expect much emphasis to be placed upon the music. However, considering the music found on Hex Enduction Hour was multi-faceted, exciting, and actually, well, went somewhere (eventually), I’ve come to expect more out of Smith than what he’s churned out for Your Future Our Clutter, which is quite the opposite from its forward-thinking predecessors, despite Domino’s press-release stating it would be the band’s most progressive work to date.

Does that mean Smith should backtrack and rehash material from Hex Enduction Hour, Grotesque, or even Dragnet? No, but it does mean that the eternally sour guy can do better than the unoriginal, meandering songs that go absolutely nowhere, which is the case on Your Future Our Clutter. Smith has taken a huge misstep by hiring some of the most derivative-sounding, schooled-in-grunge rock musicians to fill the positions in his ever-evolving lineup. They have turned some parts of Your Future into a ‘90s covers cavalcade, especially on the first two tracks, “O.F.Y.C. Showcase” and “Bury Pts. 1 & 3,” which use uninteresting grunge-based guitar riffs and drumming.

Certainly, grunge had its redeeming moments, and it would make even more sense if Smith’s golden days were steeped in the ‘90s, with the musicians were trying to hearken back to that. Unfortunately, they’re about a decade off. It makes sense for these babes to have had a steady diet of ‘90s rock as their musical muscle milk—the musicians are a few decades younger than Smith, thus there is a serious generation gap at work. Generation differences in music are sometimes a non-issue, especially when everyone is on the same page creatively, but in this case, the disparity is as obvious and awkward as ever. It sounds as though Smith turned over the basic songwriting duties to the youngsters and resigned himself to writing ill-fitted poetry over whatever they wrote.

In the ‘80s and some parts of the ‘90s, Smith was not content to simply write songs that served as backdrops (read: sonic loops) for his lyrics—there was definite music-lyric interplay, i.e., they depended on one another. Writing somewhat accessible music was possibly the most punk rock thing he could’ve done. Now, it seems as though age is creeping up on him. At 53, he seems to want to surround himself with founts of youth and spunk and spurts of punk rock, when in reality, he’s just kidding himself. The Fall starts to sound worse for wear when they include a very brief sample of Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” in the middle of the song “Cowboy George,” and Smith sounds older than ever on the closing track “Weather Report 2” sappily half-singing what sounds like a message to one of his ex-wives, “You gave me the best years of my life” over some dreadful, overly sentimental chords. Smith shouldn’t be expected to repeat the glory days of The Fall. He just needs to either tap into his enormous creative potential, fire his current band, or put up the mic for good. Then again, maybe it’s characteristic of Mark E. Smith to really not give a damn.


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