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The Sound - All Fall Down review (Whisperin' And Hollerin' )

date: May 14, 2001


 

THE SOUND - ALL FALL DOWN
(WARNER/RENASCENT U.K.)

After the full-on emotive overload of THE SOUND’s first two albums, the restless experimentation of LP number three, 1982’s "All Fall Down" has the ability to stop you in your tracks: its’ employment of drum machines, synths and a greater emphasis on group compositions leading you off down a branch line you hadn’t previously envisaged would exist. Scratch the surface with repeated plays, though, and "All Fall Down" does assume shape and make greater sense, though to these ears, the two solo Borland compositions truly stand out as the album’s loftiest peaks. Coming early on, "Party Of The Mind" finds Adrian displaying a new found confident pop sensibility and a surprisingly tongue-in-cheek lyrical bent ("Won’t you come in…like your anarchist friends"), whilst the succeeding "Monument" is quite probably this album’s "Silent Air" – a towering love song built around Borland’s aching voice, keening guitar and Mayers’ gloriously rich keyboard swells. Gorgeous, in a word.

The decent gear doesn’t stop there either. "Where The Love Is" is closer to THE SOUND of yore, Adrian’s guitar cutting a swathe and the band following through with a clipped, insistent rocker, whilst the brash "Song And Dance" and the (dare I say it?) hedonistic "Red Paint" are further examples of THE SOUND at something approaching their unadorned, emotional best. Clearly, hooking up with original partner in crime Nick Robbins once more (as co-producer) had helped unlock numerous creative possibilities. There are places where the bold new approach stumbles into the briars, though. The opening title track (initially an updating of the kids’ nursery rhyme, though it lapses into more familiar SOUND territory) still puzzles me years later, while "In Suspense" – scurrying, primitive sequenced beats and tasteful keyboard washes from Mayers dominate around a cool enough Borland vocal – doesn’t exactly hit the spot, and – for all Adrian’s urban concern lyrics - "Glass And Smoke" is at best a one-trick pony blundering around after a stable door and locking itself in in the process. That said, the plaintive "We Could Go Far" restores some balance. Built around a nagging Green bass line, soft sucking backward tapes and Adrian singing his soul out, it’s a rare, understated beauty.

As a whole, "All Fall Down" represents both a distinct effort to move ahead sonically and embrace new technology (de rigeur now, but certainly not in 1982 with guitar bands) and also edge back a little from the boiling emotional turmoil of "From The Lion’s Mouth." Indeed, the album is lighter in tone and there are definitely hints of sunshine beyond the clouds. Which doesn’t mean "All Fall Down" fails to deliver in terms of emotional clout – this is Adrian Borland after all – but by this band’s exacting standards, it is marginally less essential. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go haring after it now, mind.

2001 - TIM PEACOCK - Whisperin' & Hollerin'



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