Not half bad
The Fall - Ersatz G.B.

Nothing much ever changes with The Fall. After thirty-five years in the game, Mark E Smith remains a malevolent wit, lurking in the shadows of popular culture like some scabrous, snarling court jester, brim-full of beer and bile. And even though the faces behind him may change from time to time, the sound remains, by and large, the same as it ever did - wiry, taut and tough as old boots.

Smith has been mining the same seam over thirty studio albums now, but there’s still no sign that he’s going to dry up (or dry out) any time soon. There are moments on ‘Ersatz GB’ when his coughs and slurs become almost incomprehensible, but what you can make out (girls with “Bonjela complexions”, and confused rants about being “sick of Snow Patrol / And where to find Esso lubricant”) suggests his mind, and his tongue, is as savage and sharp as ever. What’s more, his band - playing together now for the third successive album, something of a record - sound like they’re really starting to come into their own.

Tracks like ‘Comos 7’ and ‘Nate Will Not Return’ are thrillingly direct, but elsewhere the guitar spirals out of control, and if you squint they sound a bit like White Denim probably would if they’d come from the grey North West.

There’s still not enough testosterone on display for it to count as one of their very best, but it’s not half bad.


Words by BEN BRILL

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