The Fall: Ersatz G.B.

Their first album for Cherry Red, their 29th in total.

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There have been times in the Fall’s wayward career when it felt like they were going to stall finally; one too many punch-ups, no longer any need for them to plough on. All that seems like years ago. In 2011 they feel stronger than ever, with decades left in them. Every time they return to the well, it seems fuller.

It helps that the current line-up is so strong, with Elena Poulou on keyboards contributing wiry, electronic zig-zags on, for example, Cosmos 7. She even chimes in with a deadpan vocal on Happi Song, with Mark E Smith providing eerie harmonies in the middle distance. The rest of the group offset the avant-garde tendencies with neo-rockabilly 18-wheeler clatter, while Smith’s vocals are increasingly treated and filtered.

The beef at the heart of Ersatz G.B. is typical Smithian disaffection with This England in which ‘everything that you get sort of disintegrates in your hands’.

He’s increasingly cryptic, using multiple voices, such as the growl on the bizarre dream sequence – possibly involving Richer Sounds on Greenway, or Laptop Dog – his caustic take on the matrix of modern life. ‘I’ve seen them come’, he declaims. He’ll see them go, too.

David Stubbs

David Stubbs is a music, film, TV and football journalist. He has written for The Guardian, NME, The Wire and Uncut, and has written books on Jimi Hendrix, Eminem, Electronic Music and the footballer Charlie Nicholas.