Friday, February 09, 2007

Reformation Post TLC - the Fall Return

I've been listening to new music this week. The new Bloc Party album "A Weekend in the City" is very different than its debut, its full of epic choruses and shimmering musicianship, rather than the edginess of old. In about 1984-5, alot of the post-punk bands, on their 3rd or 4th album, developing a new level of sophistication, went down this route. It reminds me a little of latterday Chameleons, or those Liverpool bands like the Pale Fountains and the Icicle Works. Rousing choruses, like the last Doves album, but a little samey in that epic grandeur. It always has the possibility of falling into Meat Loaf/Queen territory, which probably won't harm its sales any, but the lack of edginess is a bit disappointing to me, since Bloc Party were the edgiest of that group of new bands that came out about 2 or 3 years ago - and once you lose your edges, as the stone once said, you can't get them back. The Klaxons album is more fun, already a virtual Greatest Hits, and kind-of nostalgic of those bands like Carter USM, Beloved etc. who did similar pop-dance albums back in the day. New rave, same as the old rave. It's took 3 listens to begin to appreciate the new Fall album, Reformation Post TLC. I think the opening 3 tracks are probably as good an album opening as the Fall have ever done. The sound is bass heavy, uber-metal, kind of like Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" stripped of the bombast. Not for the first time, I wonder, how on earth did anyone ever think the Fall were/are a "punk" band? There are several Fall sounds of course, not just the bass-heavy driving art rock of the title track. Merle Haggard's "White Line Fever" is a nice addition to Mark E. Smith's country rock e.p. for instance. "My Door is Never" (open), is a great piece of bile, whilst "Coach and Horses" is as wistful as "Bill is Dead." Who knows what to make of Eleni's sung "The Wright Stuff", we're not in the land of "O Brother" here. The album could have ended on "Scenario" and you'd have a great tight Fall album reminiscent of "This Nation's Saving Grace", but of course that doesn't happen. The electronic mish-mashes that have accompanied the band intermittently over the years surface towards the end of the disc. The epic repetition of "Systematic Abuse" recalls nothing other than "Repetition" itself from their debut album, "Live at the Witch Trials". I've always felt Smith hates the compact disc, and its like the music towards the latter part of Reformation Post TLC is trying to escape from the limitations, fighting digitally with the medium that carries it.Or maybe that's just me. The new band are good musicians, but not great, and the production is a little deadened throughout. I found both "The Real New Fall LP" and "Fall Heads Roll" excellent song collections, whose best tracks would pepper any future Fall compilation, but I didn't listen to them all that much. It will take me more than 3 listens to appreciate the new album, and having only heard a couple of the songs live, and without the familiarity of Fall sessions, outtakes, singles etc, the new Fall album may well be their freshest in a decade.

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