Tuesday, 23 October 2018

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