You'd have thought Fall frontman Mark E. Smith would have collapsed by now from the sheer weight of the cynicism he's been preaching for 25 years. But Mr. Smith sounds every bit as virile on The Real New Fall LP as he did in decades past. “I hate the countryside so much,” he sneers over a punk rhythm section more bombastic than any of Brooklyn's finest could ever dream of. But for every double-kick drum and eighth-note bass line Smith and company slap together, there's a dreamy acoustic guitar or peculiar-sounding keyboard to balance things out: “The Past,” with its evil-whispered lyrics and organ atonality, mimics the brain quirks of insanity; the folk riffs of “Janet vs. Johnny” could pass for a Simon & Garfunkel tune, if it weren't for Smith's trademark speak-singing. I guess it goes to show you cynics can be sensitive, too.
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