As well as watching the Worst Band Ever, last week I also finally managed to catch The Fall, the finest grumpy band in the world. Singer Mark E Smith has been puzzling, delighting and be-grumpifying audiences for decades now, armed only with a perculi-ah! singing-ah! style-ah!, an endless supply of black leather zip-up jackets and a band line-up that rotates, frequently, and at his whim alone.
Needless to say, all the worthy praise you’ve ever read about The Fall is true – defiant, odd and thrilling- and make songs that are timeless by virtue of two things: their genuinely weird, outsider status, and the clattering brilliance of the songs themselves. All of this is held together by Smith, cracked ringmaster extraordinaire, the laser focus fuelled by beer, ego and more beer.
All of this has been roundly ignored by I Come To Shanghai, a band whose smoothed-off sound and shimmering brightness is miles away from grimy post-punk nihilism. Pass The Time is a yearning, pretty sigh; lazy, candy-coloured and wrapped up in its own semi-happiness.
Your Lazy Eye is a sky-shooting delight, and the breezy, bright pop couldn’t be further from The Fall’s… wait – or are they? There’s a sneaking suspicion that The Fall is still influencing new bands even now, possibly without either party knowing.
Having hung around for so long, rambling at all and sundry, telling them what to do, that, like the old drunk in the pub, you begin to take some of it in. And in I Come To Shanghai‘s sweet, clanking guitars, off-kilter view and taut drums, The Fall are there, insidious and sneering. The band just don’t realise it yet. This might be a very good thing.