Paul McKessar
Some NZ/Aus mag, March 1988

The Fall
Frenz Experiment
Beggars Banquet

No need even to preface this with "much as I hate to say it, but .. " because once you heard they were recording cover versions, the omens were always gonna be bad for the Fall. The only thing they ever had to say was their thing, and it had little to do with anything else, least of all other songwriters, so two points become relevant here, the Fall are running out of things to say and because they know how to say it all too easily.

Central to Frenz Experiment's downfall is the cover of the Kinks, 'Victoria.' It exemplifies the points made above, because for the rest of the album the Fall try so goddamn hard to deny the syndrome that tells them they're stale and know far too many chords for their own good. But it doesn't work because the dirge that they cook up throughout Frenz is lacklustre in its creation and calculated intent. Spontaneity and incompetence were of prime importance to the Fall and their contemporaries once (the Raincoats, Wire, etc; marvellously incompetent types), but that was a creative, chaotic edge that came from not knowing any better. Something that doesn't sit comfortably alongside accomplished covers of other people's songs.

I still liked the Fall though when, come This Nation's Saving Grace and Brix E Smith, they proved they could write decently bent pop songs. 'Hit the North, Part One' is

the only track that good on Frenz (and it's not even on the first pressing).[It's?] surrounded by songs that stink of feigned incompetence -- we know it ain't genuine because the evidence to the contrary (ie: 'Victoria,' 'Hit the North') is so glaring, and because it sounds so spiritless. The Fall can't look back (into their past or other people's) to go forward, but on all of Frenz's songs bar one, that's what they're doing; and that kids, is Rutsville, Arizona.