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CD: The Fall - Sub-Lingual Tablet | reviews, news & interviews

CD: The Fall - Sub-Lingual Tablet

CD: The Fall - Sub-Lingual Tablet

Another fine disc to slip under the tongue

The Fall's 31st studio album, Sub-Lingual Tablet

The Fall has always delivered great album titles, and Sub-Lingual Tablet is right up there with the best – Witch Trials, Hex, Caustic, Are You Are Missing Winner… The song titles, too, have a medicated, sub-lingual ring that no other artist could pull off – “Junger Cloth”, anyone? – guaranteed to wipe away all psychiatric waste...

Several songs take on the soft-focus Stasi surveillance of mobile social media – the rage and fury of “Facebook Troll” – Smith’s multi-layered vocal stylings, whiplash shrieks and raw blizzard of gleeful hatred are breathtakingly purgative, the song's bouncy, ultra-simple riff beset by the kind of ultra violence you get in old Tom & Jerry ‘toons and ending with an enthusiastic bout of whistling. “Pledge” is another bouncy pop hook plunged into an acidic whirlpool of synth and bass drones – the kind of booming ultra-low frequency sound that bedevils residents of Bristol – and brings Kickstarter culture to account.

The Fall line-up has been stable for the past few albums, and while this recording sports a second drummer, Sub-Lingual excels on account of its lighter instrumentation – less of the bludgeoning guitar, more space, more warped angularity and lightness of foot, riffs of great simplicity and catchiness that have been part of The Fall sound at points throughout its history.

“Venice with the Girls” is a strong opener, while the following “Black Roof” and “Dedication not Medication” lurch from the stalls shouldering several storeys of bizarre sonic architecture. “Stout Man” is super-hard rockabilly credited to Iggy Pop, while the centrepiece, and one of the group’s great performances from any decade, is “Auto Chip” – 11 minutes or so of full-on, compulsive, propulsive, mesmeric, motorik brilliance.

The vinyl release is substantially different, and includes a variety of totally different versions of the CD’s tracklist. “Autochip” fades in and out at around eight minutess; "Facebook Troll” rants and raves for a good 10 minutes,  in what sounds like a live studio recording of kitchen-sink fidelity; and “Dedication Not Medication” has its own woodchip makeover with extra ransom studio conversation.

The cover art has a simple brutalism to it, too, but the "anti-musical" contents are head-smashingly great, as well as head-smashingly demanding. It's like nothing else in music. 

Smith’s multi-layered vocal stylings, whiplash shrieks and raw blizzard of gleeful hatred are breathtakingly purgative


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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