Review Summary: "Nonsense. Good riddance to him, the freeloading bastard! I hope he fries."
The Fall is a bit of a strange precedent. Well, they are a 'typical precedent' (or at least an unsurprising one) to any deep post-punk fan, but they will come off as strange and maybe even obscure to anyone uninvolved. At their mildest they present a wild array of near-comical headscratchery, and at their wildest they may cause a headache, but all in the name of good fun. And also, of all the bands that pretty much became only one guy that keeps changing the line-up for each album (think Matt Johnson's The The, Jad Fair's Half Japanese, Mark Wilkins' The Astronauts), Mark E. Smith's Fall is one of the few that became strangely consistent. Of course, consistent in the brand of off-the-wall, hard to swallow ridiculousness, which not everyone will be able to get into. And in wake of recent news of Mark E. Smith's untimely (or very timely indeed) passing, I believe it only right to remind ourselves of some of his greatest achievements and records, as well as the forgotten and unjustly underrated ones.
The key to understanding Room to Live
-and the whole Fall discography, really- is to picture a particularly grumpy sarcastic piano falling on a slightly disillusioned elderly alcoholic. If that confuses you even more, then pity you, welcome to the world of The Fall. This album is out of tune, out of place, out of rhythm, out of mind and out of this world. It doesn't seem like the band is even genuinely trying to convey any particular sound at all. And yet, take it any way you like, it still sounds complete and cohesive.
And that's The Fall's whole magic right there for you. It is their ability to throw together what seems absolutely disorganised and force it to work. And if that is not the quintessential post-punk approach, I don't know what is.