The Fall – Perverted by Language

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Perhaps exhausted after the physical workout of Hex Enduction Hour, or perhaps because Marc Riley’s departure, or perhaps because newcomer Brix softened both the band and Mark E. Smith’s hardened heart, or perhaps they were moving there in baby steps anyway (ie. The sung choruses of Hex’s “Jawbone and the Air-rifle”; “The Man Whose Head Expanded”), or some combination of all four, the Fall loosen up a little and release a more digestible Perverted by Language. Compare: 8 songs (and some of them are actually songs this time) running 47 minutes to Hex’s 11 tracks totalling 60 minutes. And it’s not just the runtime: the grooves are less in-your-face (though still groovy), there’s more singing (Brix sings “Hotel Bloedel”; Mark E. Smith sings on both “Eat Y’Self Fitter” and the aptly titled “I Feel Voxish”) and the result is a larger label for the band for the next album and still a good album for us.

The hatred towards “Eat Y’Self Fitter” always confused me: the Fall have only written slightly different versions of the same song throughout their ongoing career, and “Eat Y’Self Fitter”‘s only difference is that its slightly more minimal (the choruses are mostly a capella), but the dual drum and bass groove is one of the album’s best (some nice drumrolls in the background from the second drummer throughout to nudge it through its length). Elsewhere, I dig the keyboard that comes to help the choruses out (help them by doing its own thing) halfway through, dig the call-and-response choruses, and the absurdity of it all (“WHAT’S A COMPUTAH?! EAT Y’SELF FITTAH!”). You know what’s worse than “Eat Y’Self Fitter?” “Tempo House.”

The other 6 songs all offer something: “Neighbourhood of Infinity” does more for me in its meshing of tune and noise than most songs from Psychocandy, and it was a good sequencing move putting this short one between “Eat” and “Garden.” “Garden” itself manages a hypnotic groove despite the fact that the whole thing sounds like it alternates between 2 chords for the entire 9 minutes. “Hotel Bloedel” reminds me of Hex‘s “Who Makes the Nazis” based on its Nazi references (“Two thousand dead Thai monks in SS uniforms / Then fled to Hotel Bloedel, outside Nuremberg”) and its odd vocal ‘sample’ breaking up the song (“WOOOOOOHP!”), and while Brix’s singing has a sweet, twee-ish quality that Smith lacks; good sequencing move capping the first side off with this one.

The second side starts off with the album’s two punchiest numbers: “Smile” (which tricks you with an intro that makes you think that it’s going to be some pop/rock song before it gets a lot scarier while Smith intimidatingly yells you to “SMILE”!) and “I Feel Voxish,” which basically is pop/rock; replete with the album’s best bass line. And closer “Hexen Definitive/Strife Knot” is the best thing the second side has to offer, a spaced out trip while Mark E. Smith ruminates about Louis Armstrong and Germany. Anyway, the CD reissue in 1998 adds “The Man Whose Head Expanded” and “Kicker Conspiracy” and their b-sides, and you could make an A- album by removing “Tempo House” with those two songs.

B+

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