CRUELTY WITHOUT BEAUTY
ALBUM COOKING VINYL, VME RELEASE:
SEPTEMBER 30, 2002 REVIEW: OCTOBER 1, 2002
taken 18 years for Soft Cell to rise from the ashes of the musical and
emotional meltdown that was their last album This Last Night in
In the meantime, Marc Almonds solo carrier has been a unique and
fascinating journey through decadent cabaret crooning. The supremely depraved
Mother Fist album from 1987 stands as a pitch black highpoint,
a blood red ruby enveloped in fantasies of death, masturbation and John
Holmes - and glam pop. It has granted him the seemingly schizophrenic
ability to both revel in glitter and kitsch and collaborate with underground
figureheads Foetus and Coil.
Dave Ball on the other hand, has taken a less visible route, working with
Psychic TV during their acid house phase and forming The Grid, best known
to most people (myself included) for the horrible banjo techno hit Swamp
My first contact with the reunited Soft Cell was an amazing performance
at the Arvika Festival this summer. Unfortunately, the new album Cruelty
without Beauty doesnt really live up to the expectations caused
by this. Gathered together here are a dozen suitably seedy pop songs,
many of them outstanding.
Both the single Monoculture and northern soul cover The
Night are as close to perfect but twisted pop music you can possibly
get. Last Chance is a bittersweet lament about our desperate
search for love. Caligula Syndrome visits the dark corners
of the human mind with sparkling, vicious joy. Themes familiar, but well
Still, compared to their three earlier albums, theres an urgency
missing in Soft Cells new music. It could have something to do with
being older, having crawled through the darkest tunnels to find yourself
in comparative light. Or maybe thats just assuming crap. Either
way, although still a valid and good band, the Soft Cell of 2002 dont
quite engage me in the way they used to.
Nevertheless, this album has to be considered a must if youve ever
been a fan of the duo.