The Birmingham Post (England) , November 29, 2003, p. 52

CD REVIEWS: Whirlpool of horror, hilarity and mystery. ROP

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2003 Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd

Byline: Review by Al Hutchins

The Fall - The Real New Fall LP Formerly 'Country On The Click' (Action Records)

There's a great deal to be said for the value of not having lyric-sheets; a world of mystery lies intact that would stay otherwise pinned down. Not that seeing the lyric parade on the band's website (for the Fall's 23rd studio album) makes them any the less inscrutable. One of the lyrics for this album gives up on an attempt to transcribe a line and inserts a ? in its place.

Mark E Smith the writer has never been in the business of making his words provide a gloss on the vastly messy confines of life on the planet, and his state of nation address for 2003 is as disturbing, entertaining, and downright confusing as you might hope and expect.

The band he has around him at the moment is one of the strongest he's had in years (evinced by the writing credits which feature contributions from all four main players) and provides a perfect foil for his spiel while driving the album along at a good pace.

If Are You Are Missing Winner, the group's last album, felt sometimes scrappy and its predecessor, The Unutterable, seemed brilliant but overlong, then this comes as a welcome all-of-a-piece work.

Which isn't to say that the album is all on one tack; the album's fine Krautrockish closer Recovery Kit and Janet, Johnny and James (both written by Smith with guitarist Ben Pritchard) run a gauntlet that manages to be both threatening and tender while Protein Protection and Sparta FC are vintage bass-driven Fall-stomp.

Last Commands Of Xyralothep Via MES and The Past#2 both inveigle with cryptic spleen and the latter's stripped down sound (just drone-keyboard with simple riff, drum-kit and vocal for the most part) highlights and focuses ('Pre-assumptions don't bring a harvest') the lyrics riffing on memory, truth and lies in the human jungle.

A whirlpool of horror and hilarity then and one that's got the good sense to pair Dolly Parton and Lord Byron.