Album review: The Fall - New Facts Emerge

The Fall - New Facts Emerge.
The Fall - New Facts Emerge.

The longer they go on, the more deliberately obtuse The Fall get; that's the inescapable conclusion you get from listening to this 32nd studio album.

The band who were arguably the first post-punks were founded in Manchester in 1976, and have made a career out of constantly changing their sound - and their personnel.

Founder Mark E. Smith is the only ever-present, and he's on typically unpredictable form on this record, which sounds at times like he's completely abandoned the idea of singing.

That's certainly the case on pointless opener Segue, which consists of 30 seconds of what sounds like him banging his empties with a stick and trying to learn to talk.

Many of the songs which follow are based around the tried and tested recipe of repetition and abrasive guitar licks.

Fol de Rol is an early highlight, though its juddering riff bears more than a passing resemblance to Rocket From The Crypt's Hanging On A Rope.

It's fair to say it's a bit of a mixed bag of an album, and certainly not an easy listen.

For example, Victoria Train Station Massacre starts promisingly, but after descending into a swathe of backward loops, ends abruptly after just over a minute, like Smith couldn't be bothered to take the song any further.

Elsewhere, the title track is another high spot, but Couples Vs Jobless Mid 30s is a rambling, shapeless song which clocks in at almost nine minutes, as does the closing Nine Out Of Ten.

Smith's increasingly-gnarled vocals are indecipherable in places, and there's a song bafflingly called O! ZZTRRK Man.

On the positive side, The Fall have never sounded better musically, and that's because the current line-up of Peter Greenway (guitar), Dave Spurr (bass) and Kieron Melling (drums) is one of the longest-lasting in the band's history, and are a good, tight unit.

Personally, I preferred their last album, 2015's Sub-Lingual Tablet, and although this ends up being a real roller-coaster ride, there's enough of substance to keep you wondering what The Fall will come up with next. 6/10.