ARK Brainsold (Urban Pyramid)

Ark are a band formed by former Fall bassist Steve Hanley and his brother Paul, a former Fall drummer, and "Brainsold" is their debut album. It's not a fantastic advertisement for Mark E Smith's tutelage, unfortunately, being an unpalatable kind of sludgy, northern industrial town rock music, almost criminally bereft of inspiration and about 20 years past its sell-by date. Think Bauhaus, The Chameleons, Echo And The Bunnymen or The Psychedelic Furs, except without any of their distinguishing features - the melodic gifts, the corrosive edges. Other entries on Ark's charge sheet include terrible song titles ("Tsars In Their Eyes") and a sixth-form lyrical sensibility, Pete Keogh's, uh, distinctive singing (in the same way that Ian Brown's 'singing' at The Stone Roses' Reading Festival showdown was 'distinctive') and sound quality prone to the occasional drunken mid-song lurch. On the plus side, there's five seconds of distant electronic bleeping at the front of the opening track, which is so pleasantly alien to everything that follows that it almost seems to have arrived there by mistake, and a cover of Alternative TV's "Nasty Little Lonely" has a sense of creeping drama that their own compositions entirely fail to articulate. But otherwise, "Brainsold" is pretty awful. A sticker on the back of my copy reads "Not For Sale": it's shocking to consider that some people might consider charging money for this demo-quality tat.

The Fall