The Fall’s second album for Cherry Red starts like the kind of live music you hear bands play before American chat shows cut to the ad break: punchy, thematic and jolly – none of which are charges you’d usually levy at Mark E Smith (except punchy, perhaps). But Re-Mit is full of surprises like that; amazingly, it’s also the band’s 30th album.
Smith’s desire to make heavy metal seems to have now subsided, replaced by an often disturbing version of events inside his mind. He speaks of airports, LCD Soundsytem’s James Murphy, MDMA and plenty more that’s as hard as ever to catch, but he also sounds rejuvenated, channelling demons, overlaying his voice on other versions of lyrics, coughing, rolling his tongue in that delicious way – like a Wild Man Fischer for the modern era.
But vitally, Re-Mit sounds alive, funny even, as if Smith has made peace with something – possibly his own genius. The Fall are still a one-man band (cruelly for the others, who deliver a broad, engaging palette of sound that veers from rock to ambient field recordings and found sound), but this time it feels that we’re closer to Smith than ever.