Post-punk freight trains, The Fall, bring us their 30th release titled Re-Mit. On this record, the front man Mark E. Smith delivers mostly incoherent, half-gargled, half-shouted vocals while the remainder of the English quintet offers us low-fi, up-tempo, foot-stomping rock. The energy is high but bored, excitable but exhausted, fresh but repeating. On Re-Mit, it sort-of feels like The Fall are gearing up to start a revolution but plateau with just inspired, conversational complaints. Needless to say, the end result is confounding.
It shouldn’t be too surprising, The Fall have displayed a harsh post-punk sound with ambiguous and mostly unintelligible lyrics on every previous release. On Re-Mit’s lead single, “Sir William Wray,” the band sounds like they are on shore gigging at a surf competition while Smith is at the helm of a drunken pirate ship. Captain Smith yells with a mean slur, backed by the “HEY’s” of the crew. The band looks out over the waves and beckons their displaced leader to re-join them on shore, but Captain Smith is already headed out to sea. Later on some instrumentally wild tracks, such as the noodle-y “Noise,” and the clanging rise and fall of “Kinder of Spine,” it appears the band’s dingy caught up to the drunken ship.
“Hittite Man” drops in with a rolling bass line, a psychedelic, Pixies-“Do-Little” style guitar riff and develops into not much more as the six minutes progress, save the occasional two bars of punk-rock chorus. Smith declares through the deep caverns of his nasal cavities “you don’t hear me!” At least he’s aware. When the words start to make sense, that’s when the band starts to make sense. The biggest kicker is that the man is a wordsmith and a cynical poet with the delivery of an injured mule, though Mark E. Smith apparently prefers it this way. Following this realization is the most incomprehensible and whimsical song, “Pre-MDMA Years,” where Smith mixes up the consonants for about a minute. Then a manic laugh concludes “No Respects Rev.” Told you this was a confusing ride.
Alternative and reeling “Jetplane” offers the most interesting presentation of dialogue in the lyrics as Smith has a conversation with himself, occasionally with womanly input from Elena Poulou, bandmate and keyboardist. Smith is confrontational in spirit throughout and seems to be speaking out about the state of Europe’s monetary system as he observes the scene from the queue of an airport: “Dave opened a Euro which will only tattoo your return number to Heathrow on your arm… and people who had cash ringing, would be persecuted to the fullest extent, Warstock and Hennings.” Then again, there may not be any point to the song at all.
As a follow up to 2011’s Ersatz GB, Re-Mit reigns as a more complete, cohesive and coherent album. The Fall is famous for its band member changes yet they have proven to maintain the same sound with only small variations stylistically over the years, as mainstay Mark E. Smith has kept is since the band’s formation in 1976. Their newest album follows suit with The Fall’s undeniable repetitive and harsh sound. Now with the installment of Re-Mit, the band’s line-up has been the same for four consecutive albums, which is the most consistent The Fall has been in the band’s history. The Fall will support Re-Mit with a tour in Europe and they do not look to be slowing down new releases anytime soon.