*Happiness Not Included (BMG)
What the hell has happened with the world? That’s what Soft Cell – singer/lyricist Marc Almond and instrumentalist Dave Ball – ask with their fifth album, *Happiness Not Included. It starts optimistic, promising a sci-fi future right out of The Jetsons, to coming full circle at the conclusion: from childhood in the 1960s, early adulthood in the decadent 80s and looking at mortality as sixtysomethings.
This eagerly anticipated offering, their first since 2002’s Cruelty Without Beauty, has some very solid songs: the title track for one, the goth-synth Bruises On All My Illusions and the bouncy, drug-fuelled past of Nostalgia Machine. The collaboration with the Pet Shop Boys on reworked disco ditty Purple Zone is more PSB than Soft Cell (it’s a nod towards Always On My Mind), with Almond coming alive at the end. Global and individual introspection and observation, gloomy as our dropping baby boomer faces – but still worth a listen.
words RHONDA LEE REALI
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