- I Wake Up In The City
- Reece Stick
- An Older Lover Etc.
- The Littlest Rebel
- The Remainderer
I Wake Up In The City
There haven’t been, in recent batches, any tracks that got me into full Jeremy Clarkson/Dad-Rock/drumming on the steering wheel mode, but this is definitely one that fits that bill. Ye gods, but this is an exemplary burst of joyful noise; a proper slice of blistering, distorted garage rock. The very first time I heard this, I was instantly hooked by the opening guitar assault; the biting fuzz of the guitar sound in the opening seconds is absolutely sublime and simply demands that you turn it up as high as it will go. And the joy is extended further by the second guitar’s distorted interjections – just listen, particularly, to the flourish at 2:31-2:44. I love my guitars dirty, scuzzy and overloaded and this track ticks every single box for me. And just when you think it can’t get any better, the breakdown at 4:01-4:07 ensures that it just does.
So, musically, this is amazingly exuberant, exciting and bursting with abandoned yet focused fizzing energy. But we haven’t even got to MES’s performance yet…
There are many examples of MES being far more articulate, more poetic, more intriguing… But still, did you ever hear him transform a song any more effectively than this? It’s a whirlwind of outstandingly fuzzy garage rock as it is, but his vocal is just utterly tremendous here: snarly, angry, biting, taunting, in your face and full of f*ck you attitude. He even manages a cough at 1:15-1:20 that is simultaneously comical, sneering and menacing.
I am, in general, a defender of the much-maligned Are You Are Missing Winner, but how the hell this piece of sublime noise ended up being replaced by the comparatively mundane My Ex-Classmates Kids I will never ever understand.
File under: turn up to 12. 13, maybe. 10/10
Never actually recorded, of course, but it made a few appearances in the live shows leading up to New Facts Emerge. There are a few (generally not very good quality) recordings knocking about; I have the last one – from Wakefield, last October. It’s fairly obvious why it didn’t make the cut for NFE: it’s a pretty primitive and not terribly inspiring shouty affair. Interesting to speculate what it might have sounded like as a recorded piece, though, as some of the other NFE tracks were remarkably transformed from live to studio version. However, as a stand-alone piece of music, it’s not much cop to be honest. 4/10
An Older Lover Etc.
The fact that I was completely blown away by Prole Art Threat in batch 6 suggested to me that I ought to properly revisit Slates once this is all over. This one, however, doesn’t fill me with the same urge. It’s not without its merits: the guitar scratches away industriously, Hanley’s bass pins it down well with the occasional flourish, and there are some interesting percussive noises (which sound almost glitch-techno in places, e.g. at 1:22). And yet… this one just doesn’t quite hang together for me. It feels like an overstretched and underdeveloped idea that doesn’t really go anywhere. MES’s occasional forays into falsetto don’t help matters either. Each time I listened to this, it felt a lot longer than its four and a half minutes. 5.5/10
The Littlest Rebel
Like Popcorn, this is a solid if unspectacular part of Extricate. It does have a little more about it though, even if MES’s vocal emphasis is a little odd and grating in places (‘little-EST reb-ELL’) and there’s a touch of rhyming dictionary about the lyrics. The insistent drumbeat and harmonica blasts always put me in mind of American railroads, somehow, and there’s an interesting 60s psychedelica vibe going on in the chorus. It’s mildly diverting, not one that I grew at all tired of and not bad overall; but no better than that. 7/10
Anyone who proclaims that The Fall didn’t produce anything worthwhile after 1982 or 1986 or 1990 or whenever should be forced to listen to this at high volume. It’s true that it doesn’t have the dense lyricism and the intricate structure of some of the early work, but there’s a wry humour and energetic sense of fun that just bursts and crackles from the speakers.
There’s a traditional(ish) song structure lurking somewhere beneath the double-drum assault and the buzzing, oscillating synth bursts; it’s actually quite melodic by the standards of 21st century Fall. It’s unmistakably post-2010 MES: he snarls and gargles with extravagant gusto throughout, like some crazed, megalomaniac alien overlord from a 1980s Dr Who.
I’ve touched on MES’s timing (or lack of) in previous posts. There’s a striking example here: at 2:55, to my ears, he comes in 2 bars too early. It’s debatable as to how deliberate this sort of thing is (there are numerous examples over the years to consider), but when it comes down to it, it adds to the unpredictability and uniqueness of his vocals and I for him don’t really care how calculated it ever was. And if the ‘good day, whatever that is‘ line doesn’t bring a smile to your face, then you’re simply just listening to the wrong group.
Just remember, The Fall were making records this good thirty-five years after they started. For which we should all be eternally grateful. 9/10