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The Sound - All Fall Down review (All Music Guide)

date: Feb 1, 2003


THE SOUND - All Fall Down 

Label: "The five-star reviews were nice and all, so how about some actual hits this time -- eh, fellas?" Band: "Right." The fellas responded with no hits, which had a lot more to do with defiance than closed-minded radio programming -- there was no attempt at making a hit. There's nothing like Jeopardy's blasting "Heartland" and there certainly isn't anything as instantly pleasurable as From the Lion's Mouth's "Sense of Purpose." In fact, the Sound responded to label demands and simmering internal pressures with a record that challenged devout fans as well.

All Fall Down is one of those maligned records where some fans bailed but a select few would be inclined to attempt -- through demonstrative hand gestures and long-winded, shouty, pouty explanations of the circumstances surrounding it -- to explain why it's the band's greatest achievement. All this despite the fact that the majority of the other people who have heard it will tell you it should be avoided at all costs. "It's hopelessly 'down,' it's got no 'tunes,' it doesn't go anywhere," etc. Truthfully, it falls somewhere between those two views. This is one of those records where patience pays off, because it will gradually become more apparent that the songs all fit together and pretzel themselves in a sense that each one's effect is optimized within the context of those surrounding it.

It's not a sprawl of songs but an album. Nothing comes by and smacks you in the face; its progression unfolds slowly. They play around with song structures, avoid choruses, drop down unexpected portals, use rhythmic drives for extended stretches, and employ chanted refrains, tape effects, and mechanized handclaps. Some songs build and build and build on a slight gradient and fade out or disappear with no resolution, no catharsis. None of these developments emaciate the band's power. However difficult the record is to crawl into, it shows a band that had reached another level of mastery. 

[Renascent reissued All Fall Down in 2002 with superb sound and added three previously unreleased songs. The vocal tracks seem to be slowed down significantly, making Adrian Borland sound very intimidating.] 

Andy Kellman, All Music Guide 

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