Music

The Fall: Your Future Our Clutter

Whether it's a return to form or the last hurrah, Your Future Our Clutter is the best Fall album in over two decades.


The Fall

Your Future Our Clutter

Label: Domino
US Release Date: 2010-05-04
UK Release Date: 2010-04-26
Amazon
iTunes

Call it a comeback two decades in the making -- or going out in style after a long, tempestuous career that started in the 1970s. There's only one indie band that can say it is releasing its best album in 25 years, and that's the Fall. Better known as a seminal influence and an elder statesman than for his actual output for a while now, Mark E. Smith has rallied his troops to craft a return to form with Your Future Our Clutter that you hoped, but wasn't sure, the Fall was still capable of. With its ambitious scale and ramshackle experimentation, the new album could easily belong in the Fall's early 1980s run of masterpieces, when the band peaked with the entropic Hex Enduction Hour and its signature classic, This Nation's Saving Grace.

While the Fall's all-but-neglected recent albums have given hints that Smith had regained his conceptual brilliance and biting wit, the post-punk icon's misanthropic aesthetic and burnt-out swagger are definitely back in full effect on Your Future Our Clutter. Evoking the mystery and quirky inventiveness of Smith's earliest work, this latest offering possesses a sense of coherence and all-engrossing appeal that makes good on the renewed promise, which is an odd thing to say about a band that has been around in some form or another for more than 30 years. So although the Fall has lots of greatest hits compilations, think of Your Future Our Clutter as the most comprehensive retrospective of the band's tenure yet, capturing all the idiosyncratic styles that only Smith has mastered or even thought of trying. Made up of nine intense tracks, the album stretches out Smith's best ideas, from the carnivalesque punk of the opening "O.F.Y.C. Showcase" to "Cowboy George", with its self-ordained "Country-'n-Northern" twang, to the scuzzy poor-man's krautrock of "Y.F.O.C. / Slippy Floor".

It's also more evident than ever before just how far-reaching the Fall's impact on rock's underground has been. From the off-kilter crash of its intro on, "Mexico Wax Solvent" makes a connection with the Pixies that should've been apparent before now, especially considering the fractured fairy tale conceits for which both legendary acts are known. More obvious is how Jarvis Cocker's ornery sing-spoken sneer was Mark E. Smith's first, the resemblance never as loud and clear as on "Hot Cake". And while much has been made Pavement's debt to the Fall, it's Smith who pays off the balance by showing how the band he influenced now influences him on Your Future Our Clutter. Best case-in-point is the epic mope of "Chino", which sounds like the Fall covering Pavement covering the Fall, almost a tit-for-tat retort to "Fillmore Jive", the closing number on Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain.

But what's the revelation of Your Future Our Clutter is something you'd never expect from the ever oblique and curmudgeonly Smith, which is the sense of vulnerability and mortality that takes hold over the second half of the album. It might have taken a long and winding road to get there, but the recklessness and bombast that has made the Fall so vital in its vitriol has given way to an almost tender weariness on the flip side of Smith's bitterness. While it's not a great idea to take what Mark E. Smith sings literally, never has he seemed to bare his soul as much as he does on "Chino", where he seems earnest when asking, "When do I quit?". Even more telling is the coda "Weather Report 2", on which Smith says to no one more than himself, "You gave me the best years of my life". It's a strikingly sincere moment that sounds like Smith is pondering what could have been along with what has been, as he resignedly spits, "No one has ever called me sir in my entire life". Adding to the effect is the irony of Smith mourning lost opportunities while he's making the most of them now, on the last song of the Fall's latest album.

Whether this is the end or the beginning of a long goodbye, the Fall proves it plans to go out on top. Whatever place Your Future Our Clutter ultimately holds in the Fall's extensive catalogue, it sounds a lot like Mark E. Smith's saving grace.

9

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less
3

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
5
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image