Laura Lee Davies, "The Fall & The Heart Throbs"
??AUG93 (live) The Grand, New York City (August 20, 1993)
Mark E. Smith and his Mancunian post-punk heroes The Fall are back with yet another (their seventeenth) album - the suitably inappropriately titled 'The Infotainment Scan' (Permanent Records). For its musical acheivements, a typically well executed bunch of manufactured noises over a shapely body of guitar riffs and rhythms, the album deserves its critical acclaim, and well, if Mark E Smith's grumpy Manc rappings have never been to your taste, he's not going to change them now, is he? Once again Smith balances pop optimism and sour indie cynicism, to greatest effect on the current single, "Why Are People Grudgeful?" (only included on the cd of the album), and the delightfully dirgey reassessment of 'Lost in Music'. But overall Smith is merely treading water, appearing to be contemporary by reacting to whatever else is going on around him.
Having started out as the next big thing after Jesus & Mary Chain, The Heart Throbs have emerged from their leathery-pop phase as a powerful and rather more serious-minded guitar band, fronted by the spirited female vocals of Rose Carlotti. Their new album 'Vertical Smile' (One Little Indian) is one of those passionate but rather humourless affairs to be expected from a band who can who can whip up a sweaty frenzy at gigs - all big themes and hook you could hang a sack of potatoes from. A perfectly modern old-fashioned gig.