MoogleFan | 05/03/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Fall is one of my top, most favorite bands of *all time*. 50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be Wrong: 39 Golden Greats was the fabulous compilation that led me to obtaining nearly all of their studio albums (not a cheap, easy task, mind you, with about 30 of them total!), the Peel sessions, and assorted live discs and compilations. I got into this band a few years ago...well, by 'this band' I mean Mark E. Smith and whoever happened to be part of his crew at the time, but you get the idea.
The Fall have gone through a lot of transitions in sound, which is natural because of the constant alteration of members and the ever-expanding musical vision of Mark E. Smith. Their earliest stuff was post-punky, then increasingly grew more complex, then they had some more accessible songs out in the 80s (a cover of The Kinks' "Victoria", and songs like "Cruiser's Creek") and a fantastic string of albums, including my favorite: This Nation's Saving Grace. The 90s was hit-and-miss, with The Infotainment Scan being the outstanding release amongst them. The 2000s brought two classic Fall LPs: The Unutterable and Fall Heads Roll.
The album previous to this one, Reformation Post TLC, was far from equaling, or even approaching the level of, any of the great Fall records. In fact, it sounded like the band wasn't even ready to put out an album yet, despite having a few good songs and concepts drifting around. Kind of the Cerebral Caustic of 2007, if you will. This lengthy introduction to the real, bare-bones review was necessary because, after all this...then we have Imperial Wax Solvent.
I don't think this is a return to a previous sound, per se, in the sense of going back to The Fall's roots or anything. It doesn't take a lot of Fall listening to determine that, as John Peel said the Fall are "always different, always the same" Rather, it is a deepening of a particular dark moodiness and unsettling energy that has long been an undercurrent throughout various Fall albums. Songs like "Alton Towers" and "Wolf Kidult Man" would work perfectly well for a Halloween mixtape. On the other hand, there is a cool catchiness present in songs like "I've Been Duped", "Latch Key Kid", and the instrumental "Taurig", an element almost absent on Reformation Post-TLC (except for its opener "Over! Over!", of course). "50 Year Old Man", which became pretty much infamous amongst Fall-aholics after the on-line leak of Imperial Wax Solvent, is one of the longest Fall songs in the catalogue, clocking in at 11 minutes and 36 seconds! This is one of Mark E. Smith's most rambling, growling numbers yet, and you will either love it or be driven mad by it.
Out of the Fall's 2000s releases, Imperial Wax Solvent is certainly the most strange and interesting, and probably the one I've listened to most often. The bizarre and strangely charming lyrical imagery is as present as ever ("I like to relax / With tobacco and sugar", "I'm not going to touch a single blade of grass / My garden will be like a distant past", "Painting yellow flowers / After blowing away / Another balloon string / Held at bay), and the songs flow nicely into one another. This Fall album is definitely work picking up. I'm already anticipating the inevitable follow-up with enthusiasm!"
The band that keeps on delivering
A. Davis | Berkshires | 01/07/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's kind of bizarre watching the Fall keep going, and going. I first picked up a Fall album five or six years ago. They were one of those art rock/noise bands I just never quite got around to. Well, that's OK; by the time I did, I had twenty-five years of material to sift through. And they haven't stopped producing.
By this time, Mark E Smith is almost a reproach, and a dare, to others not only of his own generation, but subsequent musicians. I love that he doesn't really play old material in concert, just the most recent couple of albums. But honestly, when you see this unsexy gargoyle up there at the microphone, with hot wife # 3 playing keyboards, and a rotating crew of new musicians to bully into shape, it seems....well it seems to make perfect sense. And I don't know how much fun it is to BE in the Fall, but it's a hell of a lot of fun to watch. I've taken nay-sayers to Fall concerts and they come away converted. The Fall deliver the goods.
There are some super high points on this album. At other times, they seem to be insisting a little to hard. But that's OK. I hope they come back to the USA this year. I will skip work, travel 500 miles, with a car full of unwilling converts-to-be, to see them do their thing. It'll be fun."