With Your Future Our Clutter, Mark E. Smith’s rough beast slouches into its fourth decade of existence, and its second of managed expectations; fortunately, the band is in one of its ever-cyclical upswings, bolstered by what Smith has referred to as “the best lineup I’ve ever had”—and while a characteristically ungrateful slight against all the great Fall permutations he’s sacked, it’s also a fair appraisal of this season’s squad. Its ferocious, streamlined amalgam of the Fall formula—titanic fuzz-bass lines, wracked garage-rock riffs, ham-fisted electronics—occasionally even hearkens back to the band’s vaunted “Brix era” (particularly on barnstorming opener “O.F.Y.C. Showcase” and the laconic-cool swagger of “Hot Cake”), while adding its own stamp via Spaghetti Western guitar bends and odd experiments like the Ennio Morricone-meets-Daft Punk mash-up of “Cowboy George.”
Surrounded by all this loud and clattering life, it’s strange to hear Smith musing on his own mortality: References to his recent medical problems abound, with Smith sneering about the “12-year-old doctor” who confined him to a wheelchair last year, casting a weary invalid’s eye on municipal government minutiae and Murder, She Wrote reruns, and even wondering aloud, “When do I quit?” His fatigue reaches an unusually personal point on “Weather Report 2,” when Smith utters, “You gave me the best years of my life” as a possible valediction. Considering he’s always in the position to hire a new batch of young bloods and make albums as strong as Your Future, here’s hoping it isn’t.