There are few bands with a more daunting back catalogue or a more obsessive cult following than Manchester post-punk legends The Fall. Between their formation in 1976 and the passing of iconic frontman and sole constant member Mark E. Smith in 2018, they were one of the most brilliantly combustible and uniquely idiosyncratic bands around.
Their 31 full-length albums showcase a dizzying variety of styles played by 66 different members, and even though they were never welcomed into the mainstream in the way that so many of their peers were, those of us who love The Fall, really, obsessively love The Fall. In the eyes of those who adore them they’re irreplaceable, but if you’re looking for something which channels their spirit and often anarchic energy, we're confident these five new bands might just hit the spot.
The London four-piece have routinely been compared to The Fall since their formation in 2017. It’s easy to see why – the wiry guitars of Tom Dowse and the rattling, jerking rhythm section comprised of bassist Lewis Maynard and drummer Nick Buxton are pure, early, post-punk Fall. It’s when vocalist Florence Shaw comes in that Dry Cleaning really come into their own, though – like Smith, she too deals in off-kilter and disarming lyrics, and she sometimes delivers a vocal tick which mimics one of his own, but the sound of her coldly detached monologuing is uniquely her own.
Much like The Fall, Middlesbrough based quartet Benefits take working class frustrations and an unapologetic punk rock attitude and apply them to a million-and-one musical ideas. The band’s debut album Nails takes synthy hip-hop, hardcore punk, trip-hop and more and melds it with lyrics about cartoon fascists, fucking on the cliffs of Dover, and Britain smelling of “old wars, subservience and semi-final defeats”. It’s furious and scathing in both a sonic and thematic sense, and will surely appeal to fans of Mark E. Smith at his most abrasive.
The Cool Greenhouse
Humorous, poetic, brilliantly lo-fi and wiry, but with a penchant for crafting genuinely memorable songs, The Cool Greenhouse are so clearly part of a genre revival that started with The Fall, among others, and led to the new wave of post-punk that is currently so popular. Take a listen to 2022’s Sod’s Toastie album and you’ll hear that their particular brand owes as much to the dry wit of Art Brut and the psych-punk energy of The Stranglers as it does Mark E. Smith’s crew, but it’s an exciting mix all the same.
Transposing The Fall’s gruff Manchester aesthetic to a trendier transatlantic feel, New York art punks Bodega still share a fair bit of DNA with Mark E. Smith’s crew. Their second album, 2022’s Broken Equipment, is full of awkward-yet-danceable tunes in the vein of the Brix Smith years, with dual vocalists Ben Hozie and Nikki Belfiglio making pop hooks from obtuse lyrics.
Liverpool quartet Courting could be what happens when you take the poppiest elements of The Fall, ramp them up as high as they can go and bring them into the 2020s. Their 2022 debut album Guitar Music is way more polished and bright than the majority of The Fall’s music – but The Fall were a band with an undeniable ear for a hook, and those same hooks are something Courting have in abundance. Take a listen to the scrappy throb of Loaded for evidence.