Thursday, January 11, 2007

Fall marathon 8: Cerebral Caustic

Cerebral Caustic got some decidedly iffy reviews when it came out, as I recall, although I also remember that no two reviewers seemed to agree which tracks were good and which weren't, which may say something. At the time it seemed like an unusually retrograde step, away from the electro influences that pervaded the early '90s albums and back towards the krautabilly sound of early-mid 80s Fall. This may not be unconnected with the entirely unexpected reappearance of Brix.

As it happens, there is a clear return to the pop riffs of Smith(L.E.)'s first stint with the group, but there's a lot more noise and distortion layered over the top, which gives a combative feel to proceedings. I can't help but think that there must have been some unresolved issues between the former Mr & Mrs Smith, as there seems to be a recurring theme of sparring between the two through most of this record, most extremely in "Bonkers at Phoenix", where an out-and-out bubblegum song sung by Brix is overlayed with extreme electronic dissonance and M.E.S.'s barbed comments on the festival scene.

Hindsight's a wonderful thing, and the sense of retreading old ground that made this a slightly disappointing outing first time round has receded with time, so much that I feel inclined to declare this record a Neglected Gem. Not to mention that it has a damn fine title, and an excellent picture on the cover. And how can you not like an album which includes the line "On TV today somebody claimed their dog had been molested by a textile chemist"?

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