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Longtime Fall bassist Steve Hanley obviously formed Ark for one main reason: to reincarnate his vision of what his old band should have been (or remained). Brainsold features his brother (and also onetime Fall member) Paul A. Hanley on drums, Paul S. Hanley on keyboards (simple to the point of simplistic), guitarist Colin Burns, and singer Pete Keogh. A group effort, the album bears all the marks of the Fall, minus Mark E. Smith's idiosyncrasies. Keogh's lyrics are less virulent without losing all the edge of Smith's words, and his vocal delivery is more "professional" and seducing. It sounds like a cross between the Fall and early Rolling Stones! The songs are based on simple riffs distilled from years of contact with the punk and new wave scenes. A certain harshness in the recording (vocals recorded with the needle in the red, sloppy drums, lots of attack on the bass) establishes similarities with early punk and the late-'90s indie rock scene. "Sky Scraper" and "In My Life" have hit single potential -- the latter is accompanied by a video on the enhanced portion of the disc. "King Solomon's Mines," darker and more troubled, provides another highlight. Whether Brainsold is coming back to a purer version of the Fall or if instead it brushes off that band's edge in favor of a more college radio-friendly sound will remain debatable, but one thing is sure: The Ark guys do a fine job on this debut.

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