For somebody non-English living in England, The Fall carry an almost unfathomable godlike status that enshrouds them like a Mancunian fist. “We are The Fall, Northern White Crap That Talks Back”, cried out Mark E. Smith from their debut album Live At The Witch Trials in 1979. Acerbic and quick-witted, Smith held the reins on a band that while he drew breath would always exist. 31 years later and that “Northern White Crap” is still talking back.
Once a band judged among their peers, The Fall enjoyed a sublime heyday in the mid-80’s where they creatively stunned both fans and critics alike. I’d call them the “Brix Years” but that’s my subjective point of view and every Fall fan has their own. The Fall in the 21st Century have emerged in a position beyond being judged for their efforts and are applauded for their longevity. It’s as if John Peel looking down from his DJ booth in Heaven has said “though shalt not speak ill of The Fall”.
Your Future, Our Clutter is a manic display of Smith at his caterwauling finest, from the ramshackle krautrock squeal of “O.F.Y.C Showcase” to the coo-ing rambling riffs of “Hot Cake”, a re-vision and re-appreciation of the fabled Brix era. Smith is lucky to find himself with a group of musicians who give him such a broad musical palette to skate over. It has to be made keenly clear that while Smith is The Fall, not just anybody can be The Fall. The preference for the driving beat, choppy guitar riffs and fluctuating keyboard howl that inhabit the glamrock stomp of “Bury Pts 1 + 3” give Your Future, Our Clutter its identity.
Deciphering Fall lyrics is like trying to understand the wisdom of your local park bench drunk, but on the garage rock gallop of “Cowboy George” you can’t help but try and follow Smith’s breadcrumb trail with piqued curiousity, hoping for some method to his madness. From “Mr. Pharmacist” right through to “I Can Hear The Grass Grow”, Smith’s love of 60’s garage rock and roll has fed The Fall well. A surprisingly coherent reading of Wanda Jackson’s “Funnel of Love”, a track favoured by The Cramps, is given a proper Fall rockabilly rinsing, while closing track “Weather Report 2” stretches out like another backwards glance to the days of Kurious Oranj, with a pleasant feeling of deja vu.
Your Future, Our Clutter is a surprisingly inviting Fall album. Expectations dwindle when a band is the last of their kind standing on rock’s Kilimanjaro, but The Fall have persevered through every short-lived musical genre from Punk through to Grunge and beyond, while still sounding undeniably themselves. As long as somebody can prop Smith up in front of a microphone and there’s some new blood with the tenacity to endure his bite and bark, there will always be a Fall.