Release Date: May 13, 2013
Record label: Cherry Red
Re-Mit sustains the claustrophobic ambiance and subterranean moods of the Fall’s recent releases. Produced by Mark E. Smith, it captures the spookier, isolated feel of the latest incarnation of the long-lived group, on its 30th studio record since 1977. With attention to depth, the mix combines murk with menace.
One of the pleasures of hearing a new Leonard Cohen album is discovering how much deeper his voice has gotten since the last one. You can’t quite imagine how it can get any lower but you know it will be. And sure enough, every time, there it is, wallowing out of the speakers like a comforting baritone hippo, one step closer to its logical conclusion as the oral equivalent of Sunn O)))’s guitar tones.
The compulsion is to compare the 2013 version of The Fall with the classic lineups from the ‘70s and ‘80s. But that kind of thinking is being terribly unfair both to the people backing up Mark E. Smith now and those that served under the irascible singer in the band’s most beloved era. Because in case you didn’t know already, Smith is the only permanent member of The Fall.
“‘Re-Mit’ is going to absolutely terrify people. It’s quite horrible,” announced the now 56-year-old Mark E Smith to the world in a recent interview. “The Fall have had enough and we’re coming for you.”His entrance on this album, ‘Sir William Wray’, lives up to that sinister billing. He appears to be doing some sort of demented impression of a dying helicopter.
Review Summary: Vocal testaments of M.E.S.Even if you’re not a fan of The Fall, you can’t help but admire their obdurate longevity. After nearly 40 years of piss ups, bust ups and *** ups, Mark E. Smith and his cast of Jonestown-esque musicians are still here and wreaking havoc.Seasoned Fall aficionados (this writer included) like to play a spot of ‘Fall Bingo’ when reading the latest reviews.
Mark E. Smith was already a cranky old man when he started the Fall at the age of 19; now that he’s 56, he’s eager to act like a child. The first words we hear Mark E. Smith utter on Re-Mit are: “Geh-geh-geh-geh-geh-geh-geh-geh-geh-geh-geh-geh-geh-geh-geh-geh-geh-geh-geh-geh-geh-geh/ Gus-gus/ Wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-blah-blah-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la”-- and in the weird and frightening world of the Fall, this is what happiness sounds like.
The Fall’s second album for Cherry Red starts like the kind of live music you hear bands play before American chat shows cut to the ad break: punchy, thematic and jolly – none of which are charges you’d usually levy at Mark E Smith (except punchy, perhaps). But Re-Mit is full of surprises like that; amazingly, it’s also the band’s 30th album. Smith’s desire to make heavy metal seems to have now subsided, replaced by an often disturbing version of events inside his mind.
Re-Mit begins with a minute of blithe, bubblegum indie-bop so generic you have to double-check you're listening to the Fall. It's a short-lived sensation: the second track, Sir William Wray, has a needling riff and aggressive drums and Mark E Smith growling variations on the title, the volume and violence escalating until the chanted backing vocals sound like incitements to a riot. And when that opening minute of music returns, in No Respects Rev, its cuteness could be an act of defiance, it's so at odds with Smith's sandpaper vocal, crackling impenetrably about a cove in Whitby and (probably) the evils of censorship.
Weber may have been talking about religious figures and fascists when he developed his conception of charismatic authority, but he may as well have been outlining Mark E Smith. For decades, he’s commanded his musicians and his fans chiefly by virtue of the notion that he can do things they can’t or won’t, and then following through on it. Through abuse, acrimony, and violence, he’s remained unperturbed and unperturbable in authority for 30 albums, navigating the enthralled, the devoted, and the should-know-better through an endless storm of his own devising.
In the pre-release press for any given Fall album (and yes, there are well over 30 of them) leader Mark E. Smith issues either no comment or one cryptic slogan for fans to decipher. Bucking the trend, M.E.S. issued two talking points for their 2013 release Re-Mit, one being that he didn't quite care for the band's previous album (2011's Ersatz G.B.
Making it to 30 albums would surely be impossible for most bands or singer-songwriters, but The Fall have always been unrivaled in their prolificity. Re-Mit is indeed their 30th studio album and what seems like their 100th overall album (including live albums, singles compilations and all the rest). John Peel, citing The Fall as his favorite band, famously stated: “They are always different; they are always the same.” Indeed, throughout their entire career, eternally cranky frontman Mark E Smith has been the drunken, abrasive yet mysterious, song-stealing yet supportive backbone behind a band whose repetitious instrumentation allows their line-up to change without much public notice.
“Re-Mit is going to absolutely terrify people. It’s quite horrible. The Fall have had enough and we’re coming for you,” announced Mark E. Smith in a recent interview. It was inevitable, of course, that this would provoke the assumption that Re-Mit was going to be a formidable continuation ….
The Fall RE-MIT. Mark E. Smith’s ideas are getting less idea-like than ever. The songs on “Re-Mit” (Cherry Red), his 30th studio album with his band the Fall, resemble a row of unevenly smashed windows, or patches of broken concrete in a street — unsightly ruptures within a familiar context ….
The salient quality of nearly all Fall records is the tension between Mark E Smith's demands of his band and their testing of the boundaries these entail. Perhaps it's an awareness of this that lies at the root of Smith's hands-on leadership. The reason that, say, 'Cruiser's Creek' astonishes is that you can hear both the limitations that are being drawn and the individual efforts to chafe away at these: Brix, Steve Hanley, Simon Rogers et al might not have played their parts with the mechanical discipline of session hands, but the track is just as much theirs as it Smith's, arguably as a precise consequence of the paradoxical way in which insistently-enforced instructions can stimulate antagonistic invention.