Sharon Stone makes another movie, bands of the 1978-1982 epoch reunite, technology advances, trans fats are banned yet the Fall perseveres, with Mark E. Smith the sole remaining founding member. Tart-tongued leader Smith still rants like he's got the world's number, though portions of Reformation find phone-it-in weariness creeping in. Smith still has that knack for populating the Fall with whip-smart youths who have the right proportions of rock 'n' roll chops and minimalism/restraint to realize his thorny amalgam of rockabilly, dub, mid-1960s garage rock, and early '70s German rock. "Reformation" and "My Door Is Never" pulse with the sleek, wiry, amphetamine/caffeine-driven rush of Can and Neu! in their respective primes, putting fellow travelers Stereolab to shame. The pretty Byrds-like chiming guitar refrain of "Coach and Horses" is a nice novel touch, and there's a goofy cover of Merle Haggard's "White Line Fever," where Smith sounds as if he has narcolepsy. Where RPTLC stumbles: "The Bad Stuff" is filler with "avant-garde" pretensions (snatches of garbled conversation, odd tempo changes, etc.), and "Outro" is just inane doodling. For the most part, this latest chapter of the Fall's oeuvre is a good holding action nonbelievers will remain unimpressed, devotees will be sated, and it's a good intro point for neophytes.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.