Marc Almond: Open All Night (Blue Star)

OK, LET’S GET this straight: Nick Cave is a respected ex-Goth with no hit singles. Marc Almond has had five hit singles, was responsible for the most beautiful synth-pop record of all time (‘Say Hello Wave Goodbye’), created possibly the most brutally offensively brilliant summation of the goth aesthetic ever (‘This Last Night In Sodom’) and is a laughingstock.

Appreciation be damned, I f***ing love Marc Almond and if you do too, stock up on fags and Absolut and stab the phone to death: this is his best solo album yet.

If Marc’s previous solo recordings have occasionally suffered from a surfeit of sonic obviousness, Open All Night reclines in a sound-lounge of gorgeous strung-out noir balladry. The production moves from exquisite slo-core techno (‘Bedroom Shrine’, ‘Almost Diamonds’) to bruising gris-gris jazz (‘Black Kiss’, ‘Bad People Kiss’) to deliciously sultry whiteboysoul (‘Open All Night’, ‘Midnight Soul’) with seamless skill, but what really elevates Open All Night to god-like status is the change in Marc’s voice. No less affecting, but slightly less affected, it’s the tone and timbre of a sigh that you feel Marc’s been reaching for.

Clear, concise, heartbreakingly doom-laden lyrics fit like a lungful of tears, and the closer ‘Midnight Soul’ is just about the most movingly hopeful fade-out you’ll have heard since ‘International Velvet’. A masterpiece from a saint. ****½

© Neil KulkarniMelody Maker, 1 May 1999

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