If it wasn’t for the accompanying blurb on The Remainderer EP, its purpose to simply occupy time between projects would elude you. Described as such for May’s Re-Mit and next year’s scheduled 31st studio album, the The Remainderer EP sounds less like a momentary ‘bridging point’ and more like a fully-fledged, coherent Fall effort.
What else would you expect from a band, or front-man for that matter, who have such a heightened attitude to productivity? It’s no secret that Mark E Smith doesn’t like to spend his time idly, but the habit of releasing two records – both similarly appealing- and in such quick succession, has not been so much of a recurring theme in recent years. Whilst Re-Mit produced a very mixed, albeit relatively complimentary response from fans and critics, people still expected it to sound like the glory days, but the best thing about this band is that they are perpetually evolving, and in that respect, The Remainderer carries on triumphantly where Re-Mit left off.
Look no further than the opening title track for conviction; driven by Peter Greenway’s droning guitar and Keiron Melling’s tribal drumming, it extols the use of something that The Fall are great masters of: repetition. But the real pinnacle comes towards the end of the EP; “Say Mamba/Race With The Devil” is rockabilly Fall at its finest, while the comparatively languid “Touchy Pad” brings Elena’s typically primitive but prominent keyboard work to the fore.
If you look at The Fall consecutively, one of the most notable differences is the increasingly mumbled, frazzled incoherency of Smith’s voice. 2011’s Ersatz reached new heights of indecipherable enunciation, and Re-Mit continued to perplex vocally despite being more instrumentally and melodically accessible,.The Remainderer is no exception, and those now archetypal incessant drawls have, instead of inclining towards outright vocal apathy, become a necessary staple for any Fall track post Your Future Our Clutter.
Smith doesn’t suffer fools who don’t share the same relentless work ethic as himself, and this contempt is depicted brilliantly towards the end of “Remembrance R” in which long-time Fall engineer Simon ‘Ding’ (who also happens to play bass on the recent Pixies EP) monologues a bile-fueled poem aimed at their lack of endurance. In keeping with Re-Mit’s sporadic revisits to earlier moments in the band’s career, the track thereof sounds like a 21st century counterpart to “Elves” thus an extension of Iggy Pop’s “I Wanna Be Your Dog”; those heavy, protruding bass rhythms have always held prominence in the music of The Fall, and though not quite as on the mark as the great man himself, here Dave Spurr does a remarkably good job at evocating Hanley’s brooding, resonant baselines that permeate so much of The Fall’s back catalogue.
In all, The Remainderer isn’t necessarily consistently solid, but it’s decidedly close. Fundamentally though it’s reaffirmation of their aptitude for quantity and quality. While “Amator” sounds almost redundant in comparison to the rest of the record, for every drop in momentum there’s the memorable brilliance of the aforementioned tracks that help to quickly pick itself back up again. Abrasive but not completely inaccessible, it’s The Fall very nearly at their best.