NOT only did Eleni Poulou’s departure from The Fall result in the first serious line-up change in nearly a decade, it also left Mark E Smith’s group with a rare all-male line-up — something last witnessed in 2002.
But while Poulou’s exit got a mention or two in the headlines, it is percussionist and backing singer Daren Garratt’s absence which is more greatly felt, due largely to his contributions to The Fall’s previous album Sub-Lingual Tablet and the band’s subsequent Glastonbury appearance.
New Facts Emerge, despite the stripped-down personnel, carries on in the same Beefheart-does-krautrock vein we’ve come to expect from the nucleus of guitarist Pete Greenway, bassist Dave Spurr and drummer Keiron Melling.
Brillo De Facto and Gibbus Gibson, both staples of the current live set, are the catchiest tracks here, along with the last couple of minutes of the otherwise impenetrable Couples Vs Jobless Mid 30s.
The title track, for its part, provides the album’s comedy moment in the shape of studio engineer Christophe Bride quoting from Jacques Brel’s Les Bourgeois: “C’est comme les cochons…” (It’s like the pigs...”) in a threatening tone.
Most arresting of all is the haunting closing track Nine Out Of Ten. “Come and listen to my story,” invites Smith over a succession of hesitant, reverb-heavy minor chords.
Reminiscent of 1999’s On My Own, it finds him in introspective, signing-off mode. Obdurate until the very end, he displays the same defiance as Lou Reed on Take No Prisoners or even Iggy Pop on Metallic KO.
With 32 albums now on the clock and with Smith fast approaching retirement age, it would be foolish to claim New Facts Emerge ranks among the best ever Fall albums — it doesn’t.
But it does merit top marks for sheer attitude alone.