Pop Life

Rotation: Post-TLC Reformation

The Fall Post-TLC Reformation! Narnack Records

Part of the power of rock and roll is its ability to communicate in a seemingly endless variety of ways. For Bob Seger or U2 or Weezer, rock's affinity for simple and direct expression allows it to function as a language of the everyday, bringing people together. For other artists,

its versatility becomes a seed for a private language that illuminates the gulf of subjectivity that separates people. The Fall are a shining examples of the latter. The slurred and drawling performances of vocalist and notorious pain Mark E. Smith range from the enigmatic to the nonsensical. His rambling is set off by a band that, whatever the membership, unfailingly plays the most easily comprehensible riffs imaginable, repeated well past the point of comprehensibility. The Fall turn rock's language of the everyday inside-out to show how absurd it all is.

It's surprising how often this Dadaist approach produces genuinely exciting rock music, namely "sometimes," as opposed to "never." Post TLC Reformationis par for the course in that respect. Its dark, driving sound, featuring downright nasty bass work by Rob Barbato and Dave Spurr, yields sinister grooves like "Reformation" and the urgent "Fall Sound." Meanwhile, "My Door Is Never" delivers Smith's philosophy of expression quite succinctly: "My door is always open. . . My door is never open."

However, the album lacks the bounce and spark that marked its predecessors, Fall Heads Roll and The Real New Fall LP, and its hypnotic first half is offset by a second half that boldly steps over the line separating the patient from the simply boring. Smith's genius is that his M.O. insulates him perfectly from this perennial and sometimes quite accurate criticism of his music. Of course it's quixotic and pointless. Of course it goes nowhere. It's rock and roll. It's life. - Daniel Mee

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Olivia Flores Alvarez