The Fall - "Ersatz GB" CD Review (Cherry Red Records / MVD Audio) ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Fall - "Ersatz GB" CD Review (Cherry Red Records / MVD Audio)

The Fall - 'Ersatz GB' CD Review (Cherry Red Records / MVD Audio)Toward the end of last month, The Fall released their 29th studio disc Erstaz GB (Cherry Red Records / MVD Audio). Longtime champion of the band John Peel said that “The Fall are always identifiably The Fall, but they do seem to evolve” and there is no mistaking Mark E. Smith’s garbled stream-of-conscious, sing/speak vocals on Erstaz GB which are interwoven into a dense layer of frenetic punk riffs, rumbling dirge and crashing heavy metal chords that collectively end up not too far from the music on The Fall’s last two discs.

This disc also marks the most stable lineup that The Fall have had in years as Pete Greenway (guitar), Dave Spurr (bass), Keiron Melling (drums) and Elena Poulou (keyboards) started with the band on 2008’s Imperial Wax Solvent and soldiered on for 2010’s Your Future, Our Clutter.

As to be expected, Smith lets his bile flow across the disc’s ten tracks. Erstaz is defined as “made or used as a substitute, typically an inferior one, for something else” and Smith lets loose his observations on middle-class culture (in addition to taking a swipe at Snow Patrol) with his typical non-sequitur rants. Musically, the band careens between amphetamine-fueled post-punk (“Cosmos 7”, “Taking Off”), metal (“Greenway”, which is a reworking of Anorimoi’s ”Game Boy”) and rockabilly (“Mask Search”). One notable exception is “Happi Song”, which is a Velvet Underground style number sung by the now third Mrs. Smith, Elena Poulou.

The Fall have been on the road touring in advance of the release of Ersatz GB and below are some live performance of songs from this disc.

Trying to interpret Mark E. Smith's lyrics is a thankless task and one is probably happier not knowing what was on Smith’s mind when he spits out “I had to wank off the cat to feed the fucking dog” (“Greenway”)...but Smith has long used his vocals as a musical weapon. Amusingly, I’ve made fun of hair bands (Bon Jovi and Warrant) in the past for their rhyming lyrics and Smith seems to take his own swipe at lazy lyricists by stringing together all sorts of crazy words that rhyme during the 6 minute rant “Nate Will Not Return”. The disc ends with the propulsive “Age of Chang” on which Smith repeats the chorus “Time for a Change”. With Smith’s track record of leaving dozens of former band members by the roadside over the course of his 30+ year career, I’d start getting nervous if I were one of the other members of The Fall.

The Fall just finished a UK tour last month and are off the road until March '12 when they are playing some shows in France as a run-up to the UK All Tomorrow's Parties Festival.

The Fall