Album Review: The Fall - 'Ersatz GB'

The Fall still stand alone and aloft

Album Review: The Fall - 'Ersatz GB'

Album Info

  • Release Date: November 14, 2011
  • Label: Cherry Red
  • Fact: This is The Fall's 29th studio album.
8 / 10 "[i]I’m so sick of [a]Snow Patrol[/a]/And where to find Esso lubricant[/i]”, growls a phlegm-riddled throat atop of a riff so caustic it could corrode asbestos. And there’s not even the faintest chance that such a stonking non sequitur could have germinated anywhere but the noggin of [b]Mark E Smith[/b]. For while lesser mortals still pilfer from [a]The Fall[/a]’s handbook, he remains forever several pages ahead. Of all the things that could be deemed ersatz – a German word for ‘substitute’ used mockingly by British POWs in WWII for the piss-poor imitations of bread and coffee they received in captivity – [a]The Fall[/a] are not among them.

Like 2010’s ‘[b]Your Future Our Clutter[/b]’, ‘[b]Ersatz GB[/b]’ sees Smith and co perpetually moving forwards. The rumbling riffs of ‘[b]Mask Search[/b]’ and ‘[b]Taking Off[/b]’ are Fall-like, yet elsewhere they continue to lob the occasional hand grenade into the mix and revel in the resulting chaos – just witness ‘[b]Greenway[/b]’, which sees aimless piano explode into mushroom cloud-heavy guitar, while Smith blindly chokes through billowing fugs of brown smoke.

Yet it’s his words that are truly inimitable – jumbled images with snatches of meaning floating amidst the din, with disparate nods to gum-healing ointment Bonjela (‘[b]Taking Off[/b]’) and US teen drama [i]Gossip Girl[/i] (‘[b]Nate Will Not Return[/b]’). Perhaps most oddly of all, on ‘[b]Greenway[/b]’, he’s confronted with his own doppelgänger staring back at him from a Danish TV station before he surreally barks: “[i]I had to wake up the cat just to feed the fucking dog[/i]”. It’s hard to decipher fact from fiction; or, as he grumbles on ‘[b]Laptop Dog[/b]’, “[i]Life was there but life disappeared/Searches all the bins[/i]”, the remnants of lucidity buried amongst the litter. But then, there’s really only one salient truth about ‘[b]Ersatz GB[/b]’ – that The Fall, even at nearly 30 albums old, still stand alone and aloft. Sometimes, however much you meddle with the ingredients, you can’t improve upon the original.

[i]Ben Hewitt[/i]

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