The Fall - Sub-Lingual Tablet

by Steve Reynolds Rating:8 Release Date:2015-05-11

Thirty-one albums! Thirty-one bloody albums! What other band besides Mark E Smith and his endless line-up changes can say they’ve committed that many long-players to vinyl? Maybe there is someone who can tell me otherwise but I am gonna put my balls on the line here and say no one else has. 2015 sees the Cherry Red Records release of Sub-Lingual Tablet, which continues to upset the rhythm with The Fall’s trademark terse, almost anti-music stance remaining as relevant as ever. 

The current line-up is the longest-standing of any, having been together for five minutes longer than some of the others. Joking aside, it’s been a few years since Smith had to reach for the hairdryer and do some unnecessary removal work and to the settled line-up has delivered some corkers, including a personal favourite of mine in Your Future, Our Clutter.

The band’s sound is central to what The Fall is all about, against a backdrop of Smith’s familiar snotty brattish ramblings featuring attacks on anyone/anything he feels fit enough to vent his vitriol on. He hasn’t pared down his cryptic approach to lyrics either Instead, it seems the changes of the modern world - internet, mobile phones - have put him in a much stronger attack mode.   

Never blessed as being a singer, his style may have been copied but has never been bettered and his tirades and rants here never fail to amuse. You only have to look at some of the song titles to get an idea of what he is gonna rant about: 'Quit Iphone', 'Fibre Book Troll', 'Snazzy'.

They even throw in a cover here, The Stooges' 'Stout Man' (originally titled 'Cock in My Pocket'), which quite frankly stinks and is the poorest track on the album. Smith sounds pissed and angry, like a raging tramp, and the band musically desert him as well with some rather humdrum and non-descript indie-rock.

'Auto Chip 2014-2016' restores your faith. The driving guitar of Pete Greenway reverbs around the room and his drive and impetus accompanied by the bass rumble of Dave Spurr is brilliant. They give us 10 minutes in total, a hedonistic maelstrom tortured by Smith’s uncultured slur trapped underneath the whole thing.

'Pledge' is a mass of lo-fi drumming, Eleni Poulou’s twisted electronic pulses and a frosty Greenway abrasive thrash. Smith remains stellar, ranting throughout. When he cosies up to the mic, he reminds of David Yow from Jesus Lizard at his filthy best.

'Fibre Book Troll' is Smith in belligerent mode. His creepy, whispered vocal turns into a twisted howl against online trolls and keyboard warriors. The band run with him. Musically, it’s splattered in muscle, drive, and atonal pastiches before Smith cuts the band and goes on a songbird whistle that the late Roger Whittaker would be proud of.

Sub-Lingual Tablet is a very good album from a band still pushing the limits and supporting Smith’s terse lyrics and style. He remains mad as a box of frogs but who gives a shit when he and the band can turn out such strong tracks day in, day out? Long live MES & Co.

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