Dusted Reviews

The Fall - Reformation Post TLC

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: The Fall

Album: Reformation Post TLC

Label: Narnack

Review date: Mar. 26, 2007

Since 2001's Are You Missing a Winner, it seems that Mark E. Smith's output has finally slowed, with albums of new material - grab bag affairs with plenty of brilliance rubbing shoulders with exasperation - appearing only biyearly. But when you overhaul bands as often as he does, it's amazing there's any output at all.

Reformation is no exception, proving, no matter the lineup shifts, it's business as usual for the Fall. Clocking in at an hour, there's ample opportunity for missteps and toss-offs, but also first rate, two-chord grinds that stand up to the best material the Fall has ever recorded. As initially frustrating as the album might be, it seems to morph with every listen, shining light on itself randomly, forcing the listener to approach it on its own terms. The better songs sound like they were performed by a machine less concerned about entertaining than regurgitating societal debris with enough attitude to make Smith himself blush.

The lesser pieces are, at their worst, sloppily capricious, weird or just plain annoying. That said, there's nothing here any more irritating than the wonderful bastard track "Paint Work," from 1985's worshipped This Nation's Saving Grace. If there's a real complaint to be made, it's the fact that the enhanced live tracks, by and large crush the bulk of the studio work, proving that the new band can hold their own with the last gang, but that somehow, they were lobotomized in the studio. Tunes such as "The Usher" and "Insult Song" sound like improvisations, the latter featuring playful jabs, tossed at the latest recruits, as if the tune's lack of purpose is somehow their fault. Opener, "Over! Over!," credited solely to Smith, is actually largely snagged from the United States of America's "Coming Down." "Das Boat," which consists of a simple repeated synth riff, is easily one of the most interesting things ever to appear on a Fall album. Its main section oozes out of a sinewy guitar figure, where Smith occasionally barks the title as band members slap percussion and chant. It's every bit as unhurried and monotonous as "Sleep Debt Snatches" from the late '80s, but at 10 minutes, this is as bizarre as the Fall have ever sounded.

What the album truly lacks is the churning, repetitive toughness that makes the band great. There are a few such moments here: "Reformation," which has Smith speaking with an authority that nearly matches his early-80s heyday, castigates retired bands suddenly reappearing to cash in on old glories; "Systematic Abuse," at eight minutes, recalls Perverted by Language-era Fall in terms of sheer length. Smith's constant barking of the title is either a long lost joy or an aggravation. This is not the next great Fall album, merely a good one. And when traveling the pothole-ridden road of Mr. Smith, steady as she goes is perhaps enough.

By Bruce Miller

Other Reviews of The Fall

The Real New Fall LP

The Complete Peel Sessions 1978-2004

Imperial Wax Solvent

Your Future Our Clutter


Read More

View all articles by Bruce Miller

Find out more about Narnack

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.