The Fall‘s 30th studio album ‘Re-Mit’ provided 2013 with one of its highlights and proved to be one of Mark E Smith‘s best works of the last decade. So with the 31st long player already scheduled for release next year, ‘The Remainderer’ is a six track EP that acts as a gap bridger. I didn’t really expect anything more than a few rejects and inferior outtakes from the last LP, but ‘The Remainderer’ defies those expectations in typical Fall style, offering up material easily as strong as anything they’ve done in years. But what you can and should expect is something unique and completely bonkers. I was sent a promo copy of this a few months ago, when the original release date was November 25. When it was put back to December 9, I had an inkling that it may have been down to further editing or rerecording being required as a result of Smith’s maverick perfectionism. I was right. The versions of the blinding title track and ‘Mister Rode’ on the finished CD differ significantly from the original versions featured on the first copy that was sent out. Due to the vinyl format being pressed weeks ago, it is reported to contain the previous versions rather than the ones on the disc.
The fierce lead track that lends the EP its title is classic Fall, as nagging guitars dig into the mighty shuffle and whack of not one, but two drumkits. The superior CD version features what sounds like a gang of Mark E Smiths raving and ranting over each other about becoming a tree, and his views on old groups reforming. Clearly never one for nostalgia, as an artist always focused on the future MES recognises the paradox of such situations: “Never forget, remembrance is worth nothing!” While all Fall lyrics are brilliantly ambiguous, this one seems to suggest that in touring old hits to pay the bills, reformed bands are forgetting the spirit that made them great the first time around. The fact that the music bears a slight resemblance to the Baywatch theme is also rather fantastic and makes you wonder whether the rest of his band were playing a joke on an unsuspecting MES. Or maybe he was aware all along, and maybe even a fan of the show. I’d love to think that at least one of those stories is true.
During the skewed rockabilly rumble of ‘Amorator!’, “the frost covers up what the summer men made” implies that by running on nostalgia, bands end up ruining their legacy, while the wailing vocals at the beginning of the promo/vinyl version of ‘Mister Rode’ are just one example of why DJ and broadcaster Mary Anne Hobbs laughed a while ago when I described Smith as “extraordinary”. The CD version again features multiple vocal parts, this time we get one MES barking away about having a name and a face, and another one shouting from some parallel dimension. As the swinging bounce of the song gradually develops into thunder, the muscle of this Fall line-up is highlighted with pummelling basslines from Dave ‘The Eagle’ Spurr contributing additional fatness as part of this incredibly tight (and in this case, augmented) rhythm section.
Smith’s growled intro to the brooding ‘Remembrance R’ is particularly interesting when he delivers the word “can’t” in a way that sounds like Chewbacca taking a shit, again “extraordinary” is an understatement. At 2:46 we get his elongated “remembrance pRRRRRRRRRRRRRR” as the vibe slowly unfolds into utter insanity, and the sounds of stuff being thrown about. ONLY Mark E Smith can pull this off. On the ‘Say Mama/Race With The Devil’ medley, it’s straight-up rock n roll done Smith’s way, a twisted Gene Vincent homage with a badly overdubbed bass part during the second half. On the closing ‘Touchy Pad’, Elena Poulou’s synths finally make a prominent appearance, and the lyrical theme appears to turn to the theme of immigration, casting a picture of foreigners being made to feel like aliens. Whether these tracks were recorded after ‘Re-Mit’, or just not suited to the rest of the album, they provide another fine addition to a fascinating and rich back catalogue. Rating: