Review By Leo Finlay
(Vox April 1995)
You can set your watch by Fall albums these days. Just as the daffs begin poking through, Mark E Smith pops over with his latest opus. But the facr remains they haven't made a great one for years. Last year's Middle Class Revolt started like a dream and then dozed off, while Infotainment Scan was more notable for its bizarre cover versons than its originals.
Cerebral Caustic, their 28th, is a different story, eschewing the immediacy of those previous two albums, but ultimately proving stronger for it. The track that reins you in, 'Life just Bounces', hints at the worst. It's a five-year-old B-side and live favourite, and though here in a version far meatier than the original, it suggests that the band are falling back on existing material. But it's not so; enter the very strange 'Don't Call Me darling', where Smith takes the Blur/Madness music-hall route and re-enlists the blaring, petulant vocals for Brix. Smith's estranged wife returned to the fold for some live otings last year and her contributions here breathe fresh life into the band once more. Her ex would be the first to agree, it seems: on 'One Day' he sings (in an approximation of tunefulness): "One day you'll find out you've lost a good man". Brix responds to the cajoling on 'Feeling Numb', lending sugary-sweet girly vocals to a typically sturdy Scanlon/Hanley backbeat.
Elsewhere, it takes a few listens for 'rainmaster' and 'One Day' to hit the spot, but when they do, you realise that Smith is well on form. The rampant rockabilly fervour of 'The Joke' is one of the finest rockers in years. 'North West Fashion Show' scapes by on a wired Scanlon bassline and if you ignore the dire 'Bonkers At Phoenix' and a run-of-the-mill cover of Zappa's 'I'm Not Satisfied', you'll have a record that grows in stature with each listen.
A pic of MES is accompanied by the words "Artful missus slight return tonic-ah"
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