Record Review: The Fall, Your Future, Our Clutter
Then again, the legendary Manchester band has always been a shifting membership around the central figure of Mark E. Smith, a man as driven and distinct a performer - and, by all accounts, as hard a taskmaster - as James Brown.
The Judgement: Sometimes Smith's leadership has resulted in slapdash efforts. But the past few years has seen Smith and company on a roll, with Your Future Our Clutter instantly ranking among their best.
The magpie-like nature of the band's collective muse has rarely been so clear and at the same time so easily fluid. Everything from country and western rave-ups to garage/R & B grooves to murky and mysterious keyboards to sprawling art punk is on offer (often all in the same song).
A song like "Mexico Wax Solvent," with its crisp, hard-as-hell drumming and what's either a growling bass or an equally distorted synth line offset suddenly by a pretty guitar part (which then turns increasingly strange) captures the free play at work to a T, no less so than Lee Hazlewood-meets-Suicide melodrama of "Cowboy George" or the slow moodiness into majestic keyboard drones of the closing "Weather Report."
At its heart, Smith's inimitable speak-sing vocals remain supreme, still a compellingly strange instrument delivering amazing lyrics like "The whirlpools cascade o'er my face/and I watched Murder, She Wrote at least five times." Hearing him declaim "A French composition on a fluted instrument!" on "Bury Pt. 1-3" makes it clear that he still has that unique something legions will try to make their own but never will.