Week Fifteen: The Wonderful and Frightening World of The Fall
So this is another one I have to feel bad about not listening to enough, because it’s actually pretty decent. You know, as Fall albums go. But, look. I was busy this week. The World I A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die have finally made it to the UK, so I was distracted by listening to them a fuckload in preparation for seeing them twice at the end of the week. Saturday in Manchester was pretty much one of the greatest shows I’ve been to in my life thanks to band and crowd alike, and I will never forget it. Unlike, I imagine, half of these Fall albums. Hey-ohhh.
Anyway, yeah, The Wonderful and Frightening World of The Fall. It’s a good listen! I reckon a few more spins and I’d be pretty in to it, so it’ll definitely be kept on after I’ve finished. It doesn’t feel as vital and exciting as Hex, but it’s probably a slightly more solid album overall in a lot of ways. Copped It is pretty rad as typical Fall songs go, proving that their repetitive schtick is always better when it’s done with a real sense of urgency rather than, I dunno, the lazy rambling they often slip in to? Elves, which comes straight after it, is a pretty good charting of the middle ground between those two sides, actually.
This is definitely the Fall album with the most apt title so far – it’s called The Wonderful and Frightening World of The Fall and yeah, it is basically a microcosm of their discography so far, a pretty succinct cross-section that would probably make for a pretty good introduction. It’s got a weird mix of production styles, usually sounding pretty good but then going all fuzzy for no real reason, it’s got some great songs with some great hooks and vocal harmonies, but then it slips in to your usual annoying Fall rambling repetition for a little while (fucking Bug Day). Never too long to really outstay their welcome, though, which makes it one of the easiest listens yet. Yeah, I’d definitely recommend this as a first album to check out for anyone interested in The Fall – if you can’t handle this one then you’re probably not going to find much else to enjoy in the catalogue up to this point.
But, y’know. I’m settling for ‘pretty good’ here, there’s still nothing that’s really blowing me away. I kinda feel like The Fall have been massively influential to a shitload of bands who have topped them endlessly, and have only really left the legacy that they have because they’ve stuck around for so long, clinging on to the railings, refusing to let go. I’m enjoying maybe 35-60% of their music a fair amount, but it’s not making much of a lasting impression. The World Is.., on the other hand, are pretty much now my favourite band, and I think listening to them loads and seeing them twice this week has really thrown this contrast in to light, has thrown what I’m actually gaining from listening to every Fall album in order in to sharp relief. I’m essentially just collecting data and, whilst it’s enjoyable enough, there’s nothing enduring setting in just yet. The World Is.., though, they’ve got ‘the spirit’, as Jonah Matranga would say, and it really feels like they’re already building something huge. They’re only a handful of EPs and one full-length in so far, but I can already feel a legacy starting to be created. Their overriding message is one of building, of belonging, of people coming together, and last night, in Mark E. Smith’s home city, I felt like a band from Connecticut did a better job of creating meaning and community in an hour long set than The Fall have done in a thirty eight year career.
I got a bit ahead of myself today and happened to see a video of a Fall show in Edinburgh in 2011. Mark E. Smith stormed off stage, and a fan got up and actually did a great job of fronting the band for a few minutes, until getting dragged off stage before Smith begrudgingly came back out. Last night, on the other hand, during the final song of their set, The World Is… chucked their microphones in to the crowd and came down to sing with everyone and the whole thing ended in a ridiculous, chaotic mess of togetherness. It may seem pointless to compare these two completely different bands, but I can’t help but feel like there’s something in that.
Using The Fall as an excuse to talk about how much I love The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die.