The Fall's 2011 album, Ersatz GB, was its first for Cherry Red Records and marked a fine return to form for main man Mark E. Smith and what has now become the most stable lineup of the band ever.
Everyone is back again for The Fall's 30th official studio album since forming in Manchester, England 37 years ago, but numerous compilations and live albums boosts that total considerably. Smith's vocal rants are as cryptic as ever, but the consistency of the lineup (Peter Greenway on lead guitar on all tracks but three, where Tim Presley takes over, Keiron Mulling on drums, Dave Spurr on bass and Smith's wife Elena Poulou on keyboards and backing vocals) seems to be reflected in the consistency of the record's quality.
A minute-long instrumental titled "No Respects" opens the album and is brought back again in an extended version with vocals halfway through. Both have a surprising but welcomed '60s surf/garage rock vibe and provide the biggest highlights of a solid album. "Sir William Wray" was released as a limited edition single earlier this year and features more of the jagged post-punk we've come to expect over the years, with synthesizer and shouted backing vocals rounding things out.
I wish "Jam Song" actually was something from Paul Weller and company, as a mod Smith would be pretty amusing. But there's enough enjoyment to be gleaned from "Kinder of Spine," "Hittite Man," "Victrola Time," "Irish," "Jetplanes" and "Loadstones" that longtime Fall fans should be satisfied.
I bought Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E. Smith a few weeks ago, and I'm hopeful that I'll enjoy the autobiography at least as much as Re-Mit, which I like quite a bit.