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THE FALL – ‘Sub-Lingual Tablet’ Review

THE FALL - Sub-Lingual TabletMark E. Smith and his latest merry band have released the 31st studio album from The Fall (I’ve lost count of the live albums!) and, after the rather tepid 30th effort, ‘Erstatz’, this one is pretty darn good.

There are some folks in Punkonline towers who find The Fall unlistenable and I am yet to find the “middle of the road fan” who can take them or leave them. Basically, you either love or hate The Fall.

Most of the polarizing of opinion stems from the Mancunian drone of Mr. Smith himself….at best, it’s an acquired taste! However, if you take some time to move past the vocals, you begin to understand why The Fall have such a cult following.

‘Sub Lingual’ is a bloody good album with some very good tunes. Launching with the super punk riff driven ‘Venice with the Girls’ where Smith’s vocals push the song to energetic heights and enhance it to 4+ minutes of brilliance.

The keyboard infused ‘Black Door’ is what I would term an “album filler” but the very next bass driven ‘Dedication not Medication’ would not be out of place on a John Lydon PiL album.

Half way through the album Mark E. delivers a trademark loudspeaker rap over another keyboard riff. Then, things go up-tempo on ‘Stout Man’ which features a snarling vocal over a great bass and guitar punk rock riff.

It’s all a set up for the albums “Magnum Opus” – a 10 minute plus “jam” ‘Auto Chip 14-15’ which I just loved. At this point, you begin to appreciate the genius behind the band. The band is tight, the production is perfect and Smith’s delivery is now an enhancement and not the only thing you’re listening to. This will be a great track live. It’s one of my favorite Fall songs of all time.

In Smith’s autobiography, he is unforgivingly negative towards guitar players in general but this album owes a great deal to the maligned lead six stringer. It almost feels as if the band recorded the music and Smith came in a few weeks later to lay down the vocals.

After ‘Auto Chip’, it’s all a bit of anti-climax with ‘Pledge’ and I was not sure if I was listening to the 2009 Fall or the 2013 Fall or the 2015 Fall.

However, the album ends on a strong note with typical acerbic Smith commentary on social media and banal technology. Both ‘Facebook Troll’ and ‘Quit iPhone’ are good punk songs.

So, another Fall album that has more strong songs than weak ones and, after a few listens, comes across as pretty damn good. Smith still has it.

 

Stumpy – Punk Online

 

Track Listing

  1. Venice With the Girls
  2. Black Door
  3. Dedication Not Medication
  4. First One Today
  5. Junger Cloth
  6. Stout Man
  7. Auto Chip 14-15
  8. Pledge
  9. Snazzy
  10. Facebook Troll
  11. Quit IPhone

 

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