- 16 Dec 02
Cruelty Without Beauty achieves what many reincarnated acts fail to do, in that it sounds unmistakably like the Soft Cell of then – while at the same time coming on like a work very much of now.
After a short break of 18 years, the dynamic duo are back with a new album that sounds as natural as if they’d only slipped out to the chemist. For Cruelty Without Beauty achieves what many reincarnated acts fail to do, in that it sounds unmistakably like the Soft Cell of then – while at the same time coming on like a work very much of now.
Marc Almond’s camped-up voice is as lovelorn as ever on tracks like ‘Together Alone’, and Dave Ball still knows how to use just the right amount of electricity to fill in the gaps without getting in the way. The lyric repeatedly hit a small number of targets with accuracy – the shallowness of modern life, the fickleness of celebrity and those nasty tabloids. But they deal wih love and loss too, and ‘Last Chance’ seems to hark back to a time before the classic ‘Say Hello Wave Goodbye’. ‘Sensation Nation’ does for tabloids what Christmas does for turkeys, before giving way to the sinister ‘Caligula Syndrome’ with its hint of Arabian nights and questionable delights.
The media get it again in ‘Le Grand Guignol’ which has a nattily infectious sample loping through it. ‘Monoculture’ is a snappy snapshot of the mundanity of modern life, while ‘Desperate’ is as fine a dollop of sleazy electro-trash as you might wish for. The cover of The Four Seasons’ ‘The Night’, the only non-original of the twelve tracks here, is as unnerving as a cathedral after dark.