Cruelty Without Beauty [Bonus CD]

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
Eighteen years after going their separate ways, Marc Almond and David Ball reunite here to prove that some things never change -- and some things change a whole heck of a lot. Cruelty Without Beauty is rife with the grandiose and mock-grandiose synthesizer orchestrations that marked the duo's later period, but the proud, preening decadence that seeped from the grooves of their hit debut, Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, has disappeared, replaced by a morning-after introspection. Almond's voice has lost some of its quirky sweetness, but the darker tone that he's adopted is altogether appropriate for songs like "Desperate," a stinging indictment of an entertainer trying to hang ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
Eighteen years after going their separate ways, Marc Almond and David Ball reunite here to prove that some things never change -- and some things change a whole heck of a lot. Cruelty Without Beauty is rife with the grandiose and mock-grandiose synthesizer orchestrations that marked the duo's later period, but the proud, preening decadence that seeped from the grooves of their hit debut, Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, has disappeared, replaced by a morning-after introspection. Almond's voice has lost some of its quirky sweetness, but the darker tone that he's adopted is altogether appropriate for songs like "Desperate," a stinging indictment of an entertainer trying to hang on at the end of his 15 minutes of fame. The once-jaundiced worldview -- while not significantly brighter -- has changed somewhat, as evidenced by "Monoculture," an incisive and borderline political screed about the degeneration of popular culture. The tonal palette is a bit wider here than before the hiatus, with a smattering of horns and clever use of female backing vocals, but the disc's strengths are what you might expect from Soft Cell -- most notably, the epic sweep of ballads like "On and Up" and "Last Chance."
All Music Guide - Aaron Badgley
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 with huge success, and occasionally worked together on albums Marc Almond's wonderful 1990 album, Enchanted, 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 their debut single, "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 doesn't 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. [This edition features an enhanced bonus CD with three remixes of and the video to "Moonculture."]
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/8/2002
  • Label: Cooking Vinyl
  • UPC: 711297011623
  • Catalog Number: 116

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Darker Times (4:25)
  2. 2 Monoculture (3:55)
  3. 3 Le Grand Guignol (4:14)
  4. 4 The Night (4:16)
  5. 5 Last Chance (4:30)
  6. 6 Together Alone (5:46)
  7. 7 Desperate (4:45)
  8. 8 Whatever It Takes (4:37)
  9. 9 All Out of Love (4:59)
  10. 10 Sensation Nation (4:05)
  11. 11 Caligula Syndrome (4:51)
  12. 12 On an Up (4:26)
Disc 2
  1. 1 Monoculture (3:57)
  2. 2 Monoculture (10:50)
  3. 3 Monoculture (8:22)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Soft Cell Primary Artist
Marc Almond Vocals
Dave Ball Background Vocals, Electronic Sounds
Chris Braide Background Vocals
Dominic Glover Trumpet
Technical Credits
Marc Almond Vocal Arrangements, Horn Arrangements
Dave Ball Producer
David Blackman Mastering
Ingo Vauk Programming, Producer, Engineer
Jan Driver Remixing
Trevor Jackson Engineer, Remixing
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