Reminds us of: The Fall, Wire, That Petrol Emotion
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The first thing I heard by the Fall was ‘Spoilt Victorian Child’ on a Beggars Banquet compilation alongside other notable acts of the day such as Bauhaus, The Cult, The Icicle Works and Gene Loves Jezebel. I thought it was a great tune, and it set me off on a voyage of Fall discovery, attempting to navigate my way through what was already a massive back catalogue. These days and indeed in them days I’d describe myself as an occasional fan of their music though, as I love some of their stuff but struggle to make it through a whole album.
Occasional fandom is certainly not the case for the band Life though. They openly cite the Fall as a key influence and its pretty damn obvious in their music. If you have a look at the band’s Spotify page you’ll notice that one of their playlists is titled ‘Mark E God’ too, although they also have the good taste to also have a Leonard Cohen playlist.
As a rule I’ll always have a look at the Radio 6 playlists published online to check out any new music that hasn’t flown past my radar, which is where I became aware of Life, through lead single from their new album ‘Moral Fibre’. I was impressed enough by Moral Fibre to keep my eye out for future releases, and next single ‘Hollow Thing’ piqued my interest too, although both tracks are very obviously Fall-like. Latest single ‘Bum Hour’ swung it for me though, a well-crafted little number that shows a lot of progression in their music.
The band are from Hull and in their previous incarnation as The Neat, managed to share a stage with Mark E Smith who promptly insulted them. They describe this moment as a special honour. Three of the band work or have worked in the Warren Youth Project, which offers education programmes for young people, and there is strong sense of political awareness running through their music.
First album Popular Music is a coming together of a number of single recorded over a three year period. The album was critically lauded and band received a lot of attention from the likes of Steve Lamacq, even making it onto the BBC Radio 1 albums of the year list. Lyrically the songs cover a range of topics including Brexit, Austerity, Trump and supermarket 2 for 1 deals. It’s good, although inevitably for an album of attention grabbing singles like Rare Boots, Sugar God and Euromillions it’s not particularly cohesive and all that energy gets a bit hard to get through in one sitting.
New album ‘A Picture of Good Health’ however is a different matter. It kicks off at pace with the title track and Moral Fibre, the latter of which critiques music industry moguls (Pissants!) who ply the next big thing band with coke to get them onto their roster. Bum Hour follows, sensibly slowing things down a bit, describing the experience of moving into a small flat have moved out of a family home ‘all my mates are out of town, this is the bum hour calling’.
The frenetic pace of the albums opening doesn’t come again until Grown Up and Niceties which is a good thing - Hollow Thing, Excites Me, Never Love Again and Half Pint Fatherhood are all good tracks that build the album nicely, and give it an appropriate amount of variation and depth. Don't Give Up Yet and New Rose in Love bring the album to a close.
There’s a wide range of subjects covered in the album, from mental health, break ups (and subsequent child access issues) to consumer culture on ‘It’s a Con’, and it’s clear to see that although the Mark E Smith influence is undeniable, the band are much more than just a Fall tribute band.
A Picture of Good Health is a very impressive album, and one that sees the band maturing at pace.
For more on the band, go to their website.
The band head out a UK tour in October and November, have a look at the Gigs and News page for more details.