Soft Cell / Cruelty Without Beauty
Artist Soft Cell
Title Cruelty Without Beauty
Format CD
Released 2002
Label Cooking Vinyl / Spinart
Tracks
1. Darker Times (4:25)
(Dave Ball/Ingo Vauk/Marc Almond)
2. Monoculture (3:55)
(Dave Ball/Ingo Vauk/Marc Almond)
3. Le Grand Guignol (4:14)
(Dave Ball/Ingo Vauk/Marc Almond)
4. The Night (4:16)
(Dave Ball/Ingo Vauk/Marc Almond)
5. Last Chance (4:30)
(Dave Ball/Ingo Vauk/Marc Almond)
6. Together Alone (5:46)
(Dave Ball/Ingo Vauk/Marc Almond)
7. Desperate (4:45)
(Dave Ball/Ingo Vauk/Marc Almond)
8. Whatever it Takes (4:37)
(Dave Ball/Ingo Vauk/Marc Almond)
9. All Out of Love (4:59)
(Dave Ball/Ingo Vauk/Marc Almond)
10. Sensation Nation (4:05)
(Dave Ball/Ingo Vauk/Marc Almond)
11. Caligula Syndrome (4:51)
(Dave Ball/Ingo Vauk/Marc Almond)
12. On an Up (4:26)
(Dave Ball/Ingo Vauk/Marc Almond)
Notes ( 8 / 10 )

Soft Cell's fourth studio album was released a full 18 years after the duo's third, "This Last Night In Sodom" (1984). During those 18 years, both Marc Almond and Dave Ball pursued solo careers to huge success, and occasionally worked together on albums and remix singles. But here, the two are together in full force. Almond's lyrics are among the best he has ever written, especially on the tragic "Whatever It Takes", which seems to be the sequel to "Fun City", revisiting the same character 25 years later. It all comes together with brilliant writing and Ball's atmospheric and swelling arrangement of the eerie music. And the music has grown; sure, it sounds like an updated Soft Cell, but the '80s are nowhere in sight. Wisely, this is not a 'retro' album with re-recordings of the duo's big hits, but rather a more mature Soft Cell. Overall, the album has a dark, semi-political tone reflecting the late '90s and early '00s. While it is dark, it is also captivating and accessible. Almond's voice is strong and emotive, living and breathing his stories and observations. Autobiographical? Perhaps, but in the end it does not matter. The stories are vivid, and the music incredible. The only real shame is that Almond and Ball were not creating music for 18 years, because this album shows the talent and ability of these two writers, and how the times have adapted to them.