Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Momus ‎– Don't Stop The Night (1989)

Style: Acoustic, Synth-pop
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Creation Records, Rough Trade

01.   Trust Me, I'm A Doctor
02.   Righthand Heart
03.   Lord Of The Dance
04.   Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous
05.   How Do You Find My Sister?
06.   The Hairstyle Of The Devil
07.   Don't Stop The Night
08.   Amongst Women Only
09.   The Guitar Lesson
10.   The Cabriolet
11.   Shaftesbury Avenue

It was possible to hear a budding provocateur lurking behind Tender Pervert, and its follow-up, Don't Stop the Night, unequivocally puts Momus on the path of his hero Serge Gainsbourg. Musically, it also makes him a full-fledged synth-pop artist, with a strong club flavor (and coolly ironic outlook) highly reminiscent of the Pet Shop Boys, who accordingly nominated Momus as 1989's most promising artist. But where the Pet Shop Boys' disco updates mirrored the jaded decadence of the Reagan/Thatcher/yuppie era, Momus went a step further into outright perversion. Song after song features characters using sex to gain power, or vice versa; some are merely quirky, and others genuinely disturbing: a doctor who molests his patients, a guitar teacher who molests his 12-year-old student, a social climber who pimps his sister to the rich and powerful, a necrophiliac, a jilted lover who fantasizes obsessively about his ex-girlfriend masturbating, a couple hoping to get caught making love one more time. While there's a lot of potential for adolescent glibness, Momus' literary bent leads him to flesh out these characters, to give them depth, history, and viewpoints. It's their recognizable humanity that truly makes the album shocking. Overall, Don't Stop the Night is just a little less successful than Tender Pervert; toward the end, the lively club beats disappear, and although the production remains skilled, Momus falls back into old hookless habits -- it's a shame that the music of "The Guitar Lesson" and "The Cabriolet" isn't as attention-grabbing as the lyrics. But for the most part, the record works very well. The synth-dance sound is cold and emotionally disconnected, to be sure, but that's an intentional reflection of the subject matter. Overlooking a couple of awkward hip-hop references, Momus' production is sleek and stylish, an amazingly convincing transformation for someone who'd been a Leonard Cohen disciple just two albums prior. And with its provocatively perverse sensibility, Don't Stop the Night set the tone for much of Momus' best work in the future.
Steve Huey / AllMusic

Momus ‎– Tender Pervert (1988)

Style: Acoustic, Synth-pop
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Creation Records, Rough Trade, Mercury

01.   The Angels Are Voyeurs
02.   Love On Ice
03.   I Was A Maoist Intellectual
04.   The Homosexual
05.   Bishonen
06.   Right Hand Heart
07.   A Complete History Of Sexual Jealousy (Parts 17 - 24)
08.   Ice King
09.   In The Sanatorium
10.   The Charm Of Innocence
11.   The Angels Are Voyeurs (Reprise)

Tender Pervert is the first great Momus album, thanks to a newfound affinity for synth-pop and songcraft, not to mention his sudden discovery of irony. It's hard to say which is more important to the overall effect. The lush, electro-acoustic arrangements provide a platform for Momus' increasing production acumen, and the rambling song-poems of albums past are either condensed into melodic, verse-chorus structures, or held together by focused storytelling (as with the Yukio Mishima-influenced epic "Bishonen"). What's more, the wry humor hinted at on The Poison Boyfriend blossoms into a signature worldview here, complete with a nasty, cold-blooded edge in which Momus takes obvious pleasure. Paradoxically, when he's writing with a bit of ironic distance, Momus seems freed up to discuss more personal matters, perhaps because he's not trying so excruciatingly hard to present himself as thoughtful. A few stories are appropriated, but regardless of the source, they all seem to have more emotional resonance for their author; as such, it's the first time he's really found the humanity of his subjects, instead of simply using them to illustrate ideas. Overseen by a god who gets his kicks watching humanity inflict pain on itself, the characters on Tender Pervert live confusing, duplicitous lives, putting up a front to deal with the world's expectations while carefully hiding their true selves and goals. Yet no matter how dark their desires might get, they're quite often sympathetic, imbued with charm and elegance by Momus' faux-New Romantic backing tracks. And that's to say nothing of the singer's own lyrical wit, which flourishes on "I Was a Maoist Intellectual," "The Homosexual," and "A Complete History of Sexual Jealousy, Parts 17-24" in particular. All in all, Tender Pervert is easily one of Momus' most impressive albums, striking just the right balance between his earlier and later work.
Steve Huey / AllMusic