The Fall
This Nation's Saving Grace


4.5
superb

Review

by derho USER (31 Reviews)
December 17th, 2012 | 29 replies | 2,772 views


Release Date: 1985 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A stellar introduction to the wonderful and frightening world of the Fall

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

“Sch-tick” reads the cover of the Fall’s 1985 release, “This Nation’s Saving Grace”, and it shouldn't take long to realize why. Most post-punk bands were a somber bunch. The rest were smiling, brainy quirks. The Fall, on the other hand, were pissed off and funny as hell. Unfailingly rude, incalculably hip, and undeniably intellectual, Mark E. Smith may be England’s greatest post-modern poet. Where Morrissey fancies himself the reincarnation of a sassy Oscar Wilde, Smith channels a firebrand Thoreau, or an unromantic Kerouac, or maybe just himself. His commanding presence has something to do with his uncanny ability to sell himself as the sanest person in any room. Thanks in no small part to his manic consistency, there is no Fall album that doesn’t sound like a Fall album.

That being said, “This Nation’s Saving Grace” was a fairly controversial release. While it’s often cited as their best and most appealing album, some long-time fans consider it a dud; the first step in the fall of the Fall. To these true believers, Brix Smith was the Yoko Ono of the post-punk underground. Brix quite literally married in to the Fall in 1983, and she brought pop-craft in with her. The band had long been making songs, some (“The Classical” from Hex Enduction Hour) more song-like than others (“Hip Priest” from the same), but Brixy decided it was time to get some more Rock & Roll focus. The first record on which she featured, 1983’s “Perverted By Language”, was a bit of a brick wall, difficult to dissemble, but surprisingly structured. “Grace” is the product of a careful pairing down of the ideas explored on “Language”, particularly the analysis of these things called “riffs” which, at the time, were a completely newfangled concept for the group.

It’s not that they’re necessarily excited to have us on board. There’s plenty here to scare the feeble-eared on back to their Joy Division. Cinderblock-barrage riffs on tracks like “Barmy” and “Spoilt Victorian Child” are intertwined with curdling washes of rip-tide guitar haze that feel like audio fever. “I Am Damo Suzuki” juxtaposes cat-screech chords with proudly off-tempo rumble, all punctuated by Mark E’s possessed mumble-shouts.

More than just a sharpening of their sound, “Grace” stands as a major cultural statement; a sort of British “Daydream Nation.” It casts loners and losers and psychopaths in leading roles, and wrestles with the dim prospects of defining oneself as an individual in a world that shuns its outliers. The settings are bleak at best, neon-plastic dystopias sold as wonderlands. “L.A.” evokes its subject’s paper-thin character perfectly behind a wall of bouncing New Order synths and trendy guitar twists. On “My New House” and “What You Need”, Smith discusses the sterility of massive consumption and its implications on the human condition.

It all comes to a head on “Paintwork”, a stunning anthem constructed from tape samples recorded in Mark’s lonely hotel room. The song is singular, unimposing, beautiful, and vulnerable, unlike anything to come out of Smith’s head before. What starts as a diary entry transfigures itself into a plea for understanding from a true genius enigma. The beat fades from a pitter-patter of tongue clicks to a thump of impersonal drum machine kicks. Guitars sweet and soft and natural become fuzz laced and charged in the blink of an eye. “People say, ‘Hey Mark, you’re spoiling all the paintwork’.”

The album’s title is a bit of a blatant joke, but ends up not being too far off. Whether they meant to or not, the Fall managed to create something truly special with “This Nation’s Saving Grace”.*They had left their stylistic mark long before, but what chance would Stephen Malkmus have had to dig up “Live at the Witch Trials” if a few tracks from here hadn’t become college radio hits? Age old arguments about “selling out” aside, this is still an incredibly challenging album. It hands out as many frustrations as rewards. The most wonderful part is when the frustrations start to grow on you, and suddenly Mark E. Smith becomes your best friend.

9/10



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user ratings (108)
Chart.
4.2
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Comments:Add a Comment 
CK
December 16th 2012



4880 Comments


Sweet review! Knew nothing about this band before-hand, now I'm very interested in listening to this. Have a pos, as you guys on this site like to call it apparently.

Calc
December 16th 2012



11989 Comments


dude your fuking beasting these reviews out day after day lol very impressive.

Digging: Kashiwa Daisuke - April. #02

derho
December 16th 2012



307 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

took a little 2 day break. don't tell anybody

derho
December 16th 2012



307 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

but thanks to both. And definitely worth checking out. They're one of the most important cult bands ever for sure

WeepingBanana
December 17th 2012



10045 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

album is sweet. need to get more of their stuff

derho
December 17th 2012



307 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

hex enduction hour is the place to go first

Spare
December 17th 2012



5251 Comments


album is 100% gravy good review dood

Digging: Radiator Hospital - Torch Song

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
December 17th 2012



15789 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nice review

Digging: Synaesthesia (UK) - Synaesthesia

derho
December 17th 2012



307 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I really didn't like this album on first listen, but over time they've just totally infected me. They're hard not to love.

YankeeDudel
December 17th 2012



9305 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice about time this got a review

Digging: DJ Spooky - Songs Of A Dead Dreamer

InfamousGrouse
December 17th 2012



3184 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

you should see my new house

Digging: Jackson C. Frank - Jackson C. Frank

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
December 17th 2012



7314 Comments


Good review man. I really need to get into The Fall properly, I saw them over the summer and from what I remember (I was rather drunk) they were awesome.

GiaNXGX
December 25th 2012



4867 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

omg

InfamousGrouse
December 26th 2012



3184 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Gia knows what's up

WeepingBanana
December 26th 2012



10045 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i can't believe this album didn't have a review until just recently

porch
December 26th 2012



8451 Comments


none of them had reviews a couple of years ago, lack of fall apreesh around here

Spare
December 26th 2012



5251 Comments


yea that shit is fuked up

GiaNXGX
December 26th 2012



4867 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

same. There are way too many important post-punk records without a review around here. These days I've been extremely lazy with writing, though.

RickySpanish
December 28th 2012



173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great album, finally got around to listening to this since a lot of my favorite bands such as pavement reference them as a big influence.

WeepingBanana
December 28th 2012



10045 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

CHAALD WAS SPAWL'D VICTORIAN SPAWL'D VICTORIAN CHAALD



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