Highlights: Mister Rode, Rememberance R, Touchy Pad
This shall be the last music review of 2013. And how nice it is to finish it all off with the world’s greatest band. The statement has in fact ceased to be controversial years, maybe decades ago. That is regardless of your opinion.
Not really an album but an EP. Last time Mark E. Smith released two full-length records over the course of one year was in 1988 – but let’s not get too deep into figures, something that seems rather too easy when dealing with the deranged and undying and logic-defying institution that is The Fall.
The Remainderer is brilliant, of course, but that’s because you already love The Fall, not because it’s actually great. Though maybe it is – who can tell at this point. The sound is more or less the same as it’s been for a long time (the line-up is still going strong!) and the same it was on this year’s underrated Re-Mit. Maybe a little more sloppy and loose in places, but not crucially so. The highlights include the 7-minute epic “Mister Rode” (not quite “Blindness”, but close), the terrific bass groove and Mark’s almost-angelic (did I just say that) voice during the first part of “Rememberance R” and The Fall-styled pop (anything but, of course) song “Touchy Pad”.
It’s always tempting to say something judgemental about Mark E. Smith, but the right words never come. Whatever you think about that particular individual, it’s as irrelevant as anyone’s opinion on Christmas or weather or religion or sex. You read a book like The Fallen: Searching For The Missing Members Of The Fall or you watch a YouTube footage of a recent concert where Smith doesn’t even bother to appear onstage (one of the reasons why I might just survive never seeing The Fall live), and you are filled with righteous indignation. What the fuck, Mark? But then you play the man’s new EP, and you no longer know: it’s always kind of fantastic, and what does it matter what all those past members think about Smith or whether the bloody drunkard can still stay on his feet?.. “Jetplane” will still be the song of the year.
John Doran’s recent Quietus interview with Mark E. Smith is highly recommended. Little about The Fall, of course, but plenty on Twilight, The Great British Bake Off and a few other key issues. Hilarious and mad.