Another rare music review for Flying Houses---the first since Deerhunter's Microcastle in October 2008? Really?
But yes, the last Fall album Imperial Wax Solvent was reviewed here in May or June of 2008, as I recall. All new releases from my favorite bands should be reviewed. With that logic, Sisterworld should be reviewed too (it's a masterpiece, by the way), and the new !!! album when it arrives. Not to mention the new LCD Soundsystem (3 weeks!)
It's hard to say that the Fall were my favorite band back when Imperial Wax Solvent came out--they were probably my favorite band between Fall Heads Roll and Reformation Post TLC--but they hold a very special place in my heart. I have been listening to them for seven or eight years now. There are many albums by them that I still do not have, but I think I am more than an amateur fan. Should the legend be told once more? I think not. M-E-S is in his early fifties and pretty much the most prolific musicial artist of all time besides Robert Pollard. The Fall have been around since the early days of punk in England and have incorporated elements of various genres of popular music over the last thirty years, while staying true to a basic formula that borrows heavily from Can--an insistent beat with inscrutable vocals.
I'm not sure if this album is better than Imperial Wax Solvent. I've lost that album, and I miss listening to "Wolf Kidult Man" and "50 Year Old Man" and "Exploding Chimney" and a couple others ("I've Been Duped!"). It blew Reformation Post TLC and its amateurish production out of the water, and probably bested Fall Heads Roll for most. That said, I think Your Future Our Clutter will be the most critically-acclaimed Fall album in years.
I think this is a very druggy album (as is Sisterworld). There are 9 tracks and they average close to six minutes each. And for the most part, that average holds up. The result is a bizarre listening experience. For what it's worth, the first seven tracks are incredible, and I'm not such a big fan of the last two, though many might call me crazy for making this claim. But why is it druggy? The Fall formula is taken to heavy extremes. The guitars are loud, and it almost seems as if the same crunchy riff persists throughout the entire album. This isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Let's talk about the title first, and the two songs that reference it. It seems confusing--Your Future Our Clutter is the title, but I think it has also gone by Our Future Your Clutter. I have no idea what this phrase means--but for me it means all the clutter my family will accumulate over the years that one day in the future I will have to sift through and throw away, sell, save, burn, or use. Or even more to the point--will Fall albums become clutter, as their profuse number renders each less significant? But the songs. The first track is the most energetic opening Fall track in years. Hard to say since when, but I'm going to say "Lay of the Land" from 1984's Wonderful and Frightening World of the Fall, an album that this is often compared to as it is the shortest (in terms of track number) since. That's a tall order, but the album opens brilliantly.
"Bury Parts 1 + 2" is indicative of the "druggy" atmosphere of the album, with the opening part "buried" in lo-fi production, opening up to another stomper of a track. This is arguably better than the first track.
"Mexico Wax Solvent" is another entry in the "inscrutable song title" file. What is wax solvent, and why is this song on this album? I have no clue, but this is another strong track, the best parts being about Aqua Rosa, which is apparently a beauty academy, and 12-year-old doctors giving M-E-S advice so he "can't stand up anymore."
"Cowboy George" is my least favorite of the first 7 tracks, but still more interesting than the last two, I think. There is apparently a Daft Punk sample in this song but I don't know enough about them to recognize it. Note that all first four tracks are quite long--all about six minutes.
"Hot Cake," then is a brief respite from the intense, druggy, relentless hammering--or actually it's not, but it's the shortest song up to this point. It's still over three minutes.
Then you get to the two best tracks. "O.F.Y.C./Slippy Floor" is the most immediate thing on the album. The first time you hear it you take notice. I do find it a bit repetitive and boring now, but the first five or ten times I heard it, I nearly didn't believe it. To me the closest reference point is "C'N'C'/Hassle Schmuck" which was a live song performed about twenty-eight years ago, an alternative reading of "C'N'C' Smitherin" off of Grotesque--but while that song features an iconic vocal melody in the second part, "Slippy Floor" does sound a bit like the Arctic Monkeys, as one other reviewer has already pointed out. It's very fast, and very loud, and M-E-S does some of his best ranting in years on this track. This is also the longest song on the album.
"Chino" comes next and is probably the best song on the album. I don't think anybody would say "Chino" is not the best song on the album. It seems like it's about possibly disbanding the Fall. "When do I quit?/When do I quit?" It's unsettling, a bit menacing, and totally badass. I think a lot of people want to point to this song and declare this the last Fall album.
I really don't think this will be the last one, but it does seem like a perfect penultimate one.
"Funnel of Love" (a cover of a song by Wanda Jackson) and "Weather Report #2" end the album. Neither appeals to me all that much. The first time I heard this leaked copy of the album, the last track was first, and I thought the wrong files had been copied--the opening of the song sounds nothing like the Fall. "Weather Report #2" ends in a kind of scary way with M-E-S saying "you don't deserve rock n roll" as the album peters out. More swan song indications.
The Fall haven't toured America since 2006. I hope they will come here to tour this album. I sort of highly doubt that it will happen but they are unpredictable. This is a high-quality album from a band that has had its share of misses, and one that will only build their legend further. Since it is on Domino Records, let's hope the Fall have a better chance of entering the public consciousness and let's hope they acquire the respect they deserve.