The Very Best of Soft Cellby Soft Cell
"Out in clubland, having fun, now I'm hiding from the sun." No lyrics could have ever wrapped up the duel nature of Soft Cell's music better, these lines (from "Bedsitter") tells of their fun new wave club hits and their intimate electronic dirges, and the effect they both have on listeners. The true magic of the band is when they could combine the two, like on their signature song "Tainted Love." But there are plenty of excellent songs by the duo that were never praised as highly, and most of them make it to this collection of their best material. "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye" is a touching ballad that floats its lush and heavenly melodies on a bed of throbbing synthesizers and minimalist percussion. "Sex Dwarf" is a sleazy anthem that features plodding keyboards, aggressive drums, and one of the ugliest vocal performances committed to record. It isn't that Marc Almond has a death metal throat, but instead it's the way he creeps and crawls over the track like a perverted lounge singer. The sweet gloss of "Where the Heart Is" reveals a bright and energetic group using their quirky approach to shape a thoughtful pop nugget, while "Numbers" predates the Pet Shop Boys' sarcastic-yet-touching synth pop with like-minded lyrics and equally lush keyboards. There isn't a wasted moment on the album, and the documentation of a brilliant pop group deconstructing their own genre to fit their needs is quite refreshing when so much music from this time period comes off as so dated. A good song overcomes any wacky '80s keyboard work ("Soul Inside") or high-concept production techniques ("Memorabilia"), and that's the lesson to learn from this excellent collection of hidden gems.
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