19 Protomartyr: Relatives in Descent

Father in Distress


I was never a fan of The Fall. I mean, sure, I didn’t hate them, I didn’t even dislike them: I was quite content with allowing their existence to continue. I once told this to Mark E Smith directly, when I met him while he was rifling through the tip at the end of my road looking for his other sock, which he mistakenly threw out the week before.

He replied as follows:


and then ran off. I was glad that he appreciated my point of view, though it was always a shame I never got the chance to question him on some of the legitimate issues he brought up with my statement.

I am and always have been (and always will be), of course, aware of what’s hip and groovy. I know how The Fall are one of the most certifiably and officially cool bands to be a fan of. I know how professing your fandom for them immediately bestows upon you a veneer of high culture that automatically makes your opinion of culture far more worthwhile than everyone around you. Upon declaring that you’re a fan of The Fall every wannabe cool man, woman and child in audible proximity will immediately throw off all their clothes and rub their genitals up and down your leg. You are their new God. You are just so freaking coooooool!!

(How angry do you think Stewart Lee must be that Frank Skinner is the other most notable (living) Fall fan? He’s no way near as cool as me!!! Though, Skinner did tell a story about how he was set to interview Mark E Smith for some magazine article. Smith eventually barrelled into the interview three hours after arranged and said “Sorry I’m late, Stewart”. So I guess Lee kinda wins in the end)

I actually don’t believe that professed Fall fans could actually like The Fall that much. I mean, have you heard The Fall before?? You’re asking me to believe that someone would voluntarily go and see an old fart struggle to stay upright on stage as he slurs indecipherable and indistinguishable lyrics (every few songs you might hear a little snippet, like ‘Argos Catalogue vanity incineration!’ or ‘Razor Ramon is tickling my chessboard!’ or ‘G-R-A-P-H-O-L-E-C-T, find out what it means to me!’) while the band behind him thrash tuneless nonsense that the leader occasionally considers not quite the right sort of nonsense and punches the bandmate in the face? You expect me to believe that somebody not only thinks that’s honestly the best music there is, but thinks to themselves “Hmmm, I could really do with listening to more than 30 albums of that. I hope that they’re each absolutely identical!”*??

No, people are fans of The Fall because of the status they believe it gives them. They claim to like the music just so they can purchase the vinyl albums to display around the house, while they keep the George Ezra albums safely hidden in the car. They don’t even have a record player! They’re fucking pathetic!!! If you think you’re a fan of The Fall then you’re a laughably pretentious and preposterous human being who is adding no value to life and just an embarrassment to the species as a whole!!!!

Hit the North is a good song though, even when it was released last year by Underworld

I also was never into the Fall because my Dad claims to be a big fan, and being into the same music as your Dad, even in your 30s, is just lame, man! He attempts to back up this claim of actual enjoyment by buying nearly half of all the 8 records the band release each year, but you can’t fool me old man! Regardless of whether or not he actually likes the music (he doesn’t. Nobody could) the band have long been an important part of his life.

Even though we are now in the kayfabe of December 2017 and Mark E Smith is alive and we… Mark E Smith is alive, I hope he doesn’t pass away in the near future. 24th January 2018, let’s say, hypothetically. Not because I like his music, and not just because Mark E Smith is one of the most entertaining figures in rock music and always good to have around to say how shit everything is. I mean, yeah, sure, we’ll still have Luke Haines for a good while yet, but while he qualifies in the criteria of grump and snarkiness he’s not nearly old enough, and old men are naturally just hilarious aren’t they??

Old women are disgusting though. Leaving the house after the age of 30?? You should be ashamed of yourself! BEGONE, WITCH!!

Mark E Smith’s hypothetical passing would be sad because my Dad would be quite upset. And upsetting my Dad is my job, Smithy-boy!

I seriously considered introducing my Dad to Protomartyr


as they sound to me like what I imagine all those pseudo-Fall fans like to pretend The Fall sound like. I thought that, should the worse happen, they might represent a more than decent substitute. The guitars chug (but gorgeously), the songs are unrelenting (but beautifully so) and Joe Casey’s baritone even sounds a little Smithsonian (but you can hear what he’s saying. And he doesn’t garble meaningless nonsense). The whole thing is a post-punk masterwork that would undoubtedly raise Dad’s spirits were Smith ever to pass away. Which, let’s be honest, is not going to happen for a long time yet: have you seen what fantastic shape he’s in? I’m going to ask him to recommend a yoga class if he ever loses his other sock.

song off

Protomartyr: My Children


Prince: Papa

prince proto.png

Wha…? What are you doing Protomartyr?? Listen, we all know how brilliant this album is but… Come on!!

Hey, I kinda see your line of thinking: My Children is one of the very best songs on this brilliant album, so you might have thought you’d have the ability to step to a cut from ‘Come’, one of Prince’s worst albums. But this is Papa, the one truly amazing song that Prince still manages to produce for each record, no matter how gash its surroundings. Sorry, Protomartry, but your arms are too short to box with God.

Hey, wait, no- WAIT! Get out of the ring! You’re not oh his… Oooooof! That looked painfu… AAAAAARGH! Oh the humanity! Referee! Referee! Get in there!

Match Stopped Due to Excessive Blood Loss: -10


I couldn’t introduce Protomartyr as a replacement for The Fall though, could I?

Dad doesn’t like The Fall because of the way they sound (because, once again: nobody possibly could), he loved them for a thousand different reasons.

He loved them because of how important they were to John Peel. He loved them because Mark E Smith is around as old as he is and eternal proof that he’s not actually behaving that inappropriately for his age. He loves them because of Smith’s attitude and the minuscule amount of fucks he has to give. I honestly think if I asked my Dad who the coolest person in the world is, I have no doubt he would say Mark E Smith, which is why I’ll never ask him because the answer would just depress me (and the correct answer is, as we discussed, EMA). He loves them because every one of their 6’432 albums sound the same. If he were being completely honest (which he’s never been in the past, so unlikely to start now) he’d admit he loves them because they’re a bit shit.

He loves The Fall not because they sound like The Fall. He loves the Fall because they are The Fall. Which Protomartyr


are not. It’s like if someone attempted to replace Prince in my affection by


It’ll be like if Manic Street Preachers were all killed off, perhaps in a mass photography mishap like the beginning of King Ralph, and someone suggested that I tried to replace them with this new band called Batty Avenue Orators. The Batty Avenue Orators might have just released an album that obviously builds on their proud Manics influence (perhaps down to them also hailing from Blackwood, Caerphilly), and is actually far better than anything the Manics could have hoped to produce. The record is the defining cultural milestone of the 21st century, and they eclipse the Manics in every single artistic and aesthetic way. I’d still consider them laughably poor surrogates: The Manics had a 20-30 year head start and their my band!! I never grew as a child, teenager and adult with Batty Avenue Orators! I never formed friendships and loves over Batty Avenue Orators! I never based my philosophy and politics around lyrics from the Batty Avenue Orators! The Batty fucking Avenue fucking Orators are nothing to me! I hate you Batty Avenue Orators!!

Or, alternatively, if after your Mum passes away a friend introduces you to Rita from down the street: “Look, your Mum wore clothes like that, didn’t she? It’s like she never went away!

You’re not a Fall fan though: you actually prefer listening to good music. Which is why you should listen to ‘Relatives in Descent’. It’s awesome. That is all.

That photo at the top of the piece was taken exactly seven years ago today (Amazon told me). It reminds me of a great time when Dad came all the way to China just to visit me. Roy Palmer left us in January this year


He went to Malta for a week. Said it was lovely.


Age of Singer Joe Casey: 40 (+6)

Album Number: 4 (+12)

Album Length: 43 minutes (+3)

Very Good Songs: 4 (+8)

Brilliant Songs: 8 (+40)

AMAZING Songs: 0

% of Album Worthwhile: 100




Kind of starkly beautiful, and a teensy bit disturbing, so suits the album perfectly


Previous Entries: NONE


Meta Critic: 85





*You’re in luck…

2 thoughts on “19 Protomartyr: Relatives in Descent

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