Review Summary: Classic early eighties Fall.
In The Fall’s eponymous ‘Hex Enduction Hour’ (sic), Mark E. Smith displays his hate for the supposed ‘New Romantics’ (Kill em’, kill’ em, KILL’ em”). A look at my profile will make your ‘irony senses’ tingle. Nevertheless I shall continue. This review is about ‘Perverted by Language’, The Fall’s first album to feature Brix E. Smith – possibly the most contested member of The Fall after Smith himself.
Considering The Fall’s back catalogue of hit and miss – one can be safely assured that any Fall album post-1978 and pre-1990 is a keeper. Nothing is as raw, esoteric or as rewarding as listening to The Fall. It is as if the listener can completely forget their musical history and start from scratch – they’re that good. This is not a biased opinion – this is the truth. The Fall’s albums are so difficult to review –I will loosely discuss the album in relation to The Fall.
Like ‘Hex Enduction Hour’ or ‘Grotesque (After The Gramme)' (sic), Mark E. Smith’s delightful charisma and unintelligible babble is over-the-top – a dominating presence on every Fall album. It is up to the listener to decide whether Smith even sings as the concept of melody in music seems too right-wing and unoriginal. Smith is so bitter – he’d probably cackle manically at me for even mentioning his name. As much as I dislike the term post-modern, Smith truly despises the music industry and its idea of ‘the artist’, ‘the album’ and the importance of convention. Rest assured however, that as a novice Fall listener: it is easy to understand the controversy surrounding the group.
Fall controversy aside, ‘Perverted by Language’ is a great album. Not an excellent album or a gorgeous album – a great album. It is an album of repetition, patterns and subtle variations (like any other Fall album). If a genre should be attributed – it’d be post-punk, very loosely of course. Ultimately, The Fall do not play rock music – they play ‘The Fall’.
Once the listener can overcome the subjective ‘shortcomings’ of The Fall – they will be rewarded. They will be rewarded by the obscurities and complexities of ‘Eat Y’self Fitter’ and ‘Tempo House’ as below the ugly exterior of supposed ‘pop sensibility’ is the musical layer of The Fall that every musical critic loves or hates. I’m not talking necessarily about the lyrical content nor am I praising the overall group’s musicianship – it is all about the mix.
For a more objective perspective of ‘Perverted by Language’, one must discuss the relevance of each musical instrument. Everything that defines the sound of The Fall is present in this album. The shatteringly loud and polyrhythmic presence of two drummers, the abrasive and twangy guitar tones and the oft-wobbly and occasionally detailed bass guitar playing- all contribute to the overall sound of the album.
The effective twin drum introduction of ‘Eat Y’self Fitter’ is necessary to keep the listener’s attention. Mark E. Smith’s lyrics are borderline absurd. (“What’s a computer" Eat Yr’self Fitter”). The most irritating track is ‘Hotel Bloudel’ – proof that Brix cannot not sing or speak. However, what follows are the best tracks on the album. The melodic and surprisingly catchy ‘I Feel Voxish’ and the long bass driven vamp of ‘Tempo House’ are what really make this album unique and worthy of any serious listener’s attention.
‘Perverted by Language’ is (like any other 80’s Fall album) an album of intricacy. An album not even Smith could explain to an individual. What is very intelligible, however, is the always minimalist approach and often underrated musicianship of each member of The Fall. This album works very well as a whole and is certainly not one to judge on the first listen. As an introduction to The Fall, ‘Perverted by Language’ may just be the best after ‘Hex Enduction Hour’.