It is an absolutely capricious delight to say that; despite being a band that is no stranger to releasing music in five different decades, despite coming across musical declivities that would tear asunder a garden variety band and despite the fact that the seemingly omniscient Mark E Smith spent his last year off his tits in a motorized wheelchair; Your Future Your Clutter is quite the achievement. Good album yeah? Nah, more than that mate. Very good to excellent and the very LEAST, extraordinary even. And fuck it, it’s not like this is some spurious, anomalous out of FUCKING no-where musical masterstroke either (the Fall have release LOADS of brilliant stuff post 1985) ya know? The last few albums were pretty damn tasty (nothing classic though) admittedly; but no matter HOW much I revere Fall Heads Roll, it was certainly a work that needed an editor to tell Smith “Umm…listen mate, maybe if you took THAT bit out…”, but nevertheless, it was a release that laid host to some of the best Fall songs in recent memory. Reformation TLC was an anfractuous fucking shitstorm of a thing; less a collection of songs, more a queer and puerile musical calamity that allowed Smith to exeleutherostomize on well…how his latest crop of musicians were literally a confederacy of illicit cunts and faggots. Imperial Wax Solvent was the best yet, not containing any really ROBUST highlights, but possessing a giddy sort of energy, and an energetic, quite vehement sounding Smith. But all the little infallibilities, all the little annoying idiosyncrasies that plagued and belittled the aforementioned, they’re all gone now. Your Future Our Clutter has it all really, the highlights of Fall Heads Roll, the pinchbeckence of Reformation, and the playfulness of Imperial Wax rolled into one. And all this is evident from the get go. Smith mumbles something, there’s this weird bleepy sound, and the drums kick in. And fucking HELL these bastards are loud. Big loud thundering bastards and fantastic sounds; all that extra record label money was REALLY well spent methinks. It’s not like Domino Records were a worry or anything like that, but there must have been some uneasy undercurrent for Fall fans in this regard, a band sitting on the periphery of the musical scene about to needlessly hit the big time? With such an adventitious record label? I mean, CMON folks! MARK having A coffee WITH those TWATTY Franz FERDINAND tits? Doesn’t bear thinking about! But there’s a whole multitude of stuff that REALLY does strike you about the album almost straight off!
First off the bat, this is not your typical 90’s phlegmatic Mark E Smith. This is a Smith who sings every line with a wonderful mix of relish, humour and balls out confidence. The wonderful opener, the triumphant OUR FUTURE YOU CLUTTER yelps, amalgamated with some wonderfully meaty guitars and some implicit keyboard flourishes from Elena Smith are just the icing on the cake in this regard. It’s fucking wonderful, absolutely wonderful. Second, the song lengths. The average song here is six to eight minutes long (with two metastasis, long to short in duration tracks; “Hot Cake” and esoteric rockability cover “Funnel Of Love”) and in a typically anaclitic Fall fashion, tend to not deviate much from a simple three/four note guitar formula. So yeah. Chances are if you’re a big Perverted By Language acolyte then you’ll probably dig this album more. But that doesn’t hurt it in ANY way. The album sometimes LINGERS on being boring or monotonous, but it RARELY ever crosses that line. The first half of the album DOES veneer that way a few times admittedly; “Bury Parts 1 & 3” has a brilliant idea where the sound quality starts off shit (think of the song being recorded on your mobile phone) but gradually progresses to something big, loud and audacious. It’s a SUPERB idea, trying to make everything tense and shit in this way, but the riff (sounds like the doppelganger to No One Knows…I’m weird like that) is just NOT interesting enough for seven minutes. Likewise, the irritating “Cowboy George” decides to end on this damp squid of a note, where Smith and this weird distortion part needlessly drag out the song for an extra two minutes or so. It's minor enough admittedly, and truth be told, it would NOT be a Fall release if there wasn't a crappy moment or two. You just take em as they come ya know?
But when “Hot Cake” comes on, all of this is forgotten, the bacon in this album REALLY starts to fry, and we’re into an absolutely impeccable run of (I can’t believe I FUCKING FORGOT to mention “Mexican Wax Solvent” that is a brill tune) simply BRILLIANT songs. “Hot Cake" for one thing is SO SO FUCKING catchy, Elena’s AH AH AH OOOO yelps ensure that this is well…maybe the single most infectious Fall tune since “Theme From Sparta F.C”. The guitar parts are BIG and lurch forward with delightful vivacity, whereas Smith; well his delivery conjures the image of some mad Cheshire Cat figure (themovieistwatty) if that makes sense. “Y.F.O.C. / Slippy Floor” is like a more compact version of “50 Year Old Man” and is one of the album’s better examples of (which this album HAS IN SPADES admittedly) alacrity. From the two note bass intro (we-re gonna get MARRIED…WHAT a line, and the way Smith says it as well) to the big, HILARIOUS and fucking batty Slippy Floor part, to the weird quasi folk ending thing, it’s one hell of a monstrous track. “Chino” is even better, reminding me of Slint for some reason, and runs on a robust foundation of sludgy guitars and voluminous drumming. This is absolutely astounding, the moment where Smith yells “Can I leave this trench alone??” and the song explodes back into life is fucking MAGICAL SHIT man, absolutely. Disturbingly enough though, and to digress temporarily, Our Future Your Clutter has LOADS of lyrics in correlation to medical stuff; Smith mentions or namedrops drugs, doctors, hospitals, physicians and some batty and very obscure medical references that I had to look up cause I‘m a nerdy twat and Smith is a ridiculously intelligent guy. I mean for one thing, Smith seems to know A LOT about horse tranquillisers? I mean WHAT? The HELL? Moving on, “Funnel Of Love” is just a brilliant and downright fun cover that offers a nice link between the ominous “Chino” and the REALLY odd, closing song, “Weather Report 2”, a song that defies words. I mean, for one thing…it sounds REALLY personal. And Smith doesn’t DO personal. Smith puts out songs, drinks way too much, tours and that’s it. Except on Extricate maybe.
But man, it’s so fucking weird to hear Smith sing stuff like “You gave me the best times of my life” and “No ones called me sir in my entire life“. It’s VERY moving, very touching. Can’t say why. And the effect is insurmountable. You hear an ending like this, and with all the hospital references, you inevitably start thinking…is Smith actually NOT taking the piss this time? But, I’m digressing. Sides, The Fall are about fucking catchy tunes with a bit of weird shit on the side. Not about analytical my metaphor is simile Leonard Cohen crap or anything in that iota. Smith would seriously hunt me down and, strangle me if he read any of the above, but that’s not here or there. What IS though (and sort of reinforces my previous point) is the last four minutes of the song. Out of NOWHERE, the song changes from this queer, oddly touching ballad thing to a EVIL NASTY electronica glitch thing. Smith is STILL singing the same lines as before, but this time he’s put through a vocoder thing, and he sounds SO fucking evil, so creepy. The song drones away like this, Mrs Smiths keyboards accompanying proceedings IMMACULATELY until the music cuts out; ending with Smith delivering maybe THE best lyrics to end a Fall album in recent memory. I won’t spoil it (needless to say, some other review will end up quoting it) but what I will say, is uh…FUCK Joanna Newsom.
Ultimately, I'm just a fan of brilliantly constructed, incredibly melodic and downright BATTY post-punk music. And there ain’t many more examples better than this one. The fact that this may not even be a top TEN Fall album really does say a lot too. This is The Fall, with the ever present mahout Mark E Smith at the helm. This is their music. And they sure AS FUCK are not going down without some sort of a fight. Your Future Our Clutter, for better or worse (not a new band but a very old one, not the best impression maybe?) is the first classic album of the 10s. Fuck you and goodbye.