If you’re a Cure fan (or even if you’re not), you probably remember the terrible day back in 1992 when Wish came out. Robert Smith had suddenly become cheery. The band had lost its edge, and the tunes shamelessly mined previous territory.
Well, I’m extremely saddened to report that the Cure Syndrome has befallen The Beautiful South. Paul Heaton is no longer dangerous. Gone is the subversiveness of “Don’t Marry Her,” “Alone,” or “Window Shopping for Blinds.” Gone is the bleak solitude masked within cheery melodies (“Rotterdam” or “Song for Whoever”). Gone is the fundamental thing that made The Beautiful South work.
Now understand that I have loved almost everything Paul Heaton has created. Everything from the Housemartins on. I was even willing to forgive the Painting It Red‘s weaknesses. But Gaze is downright criminal in its betrayal. A fey celebration of transvestites in “101% Man?” That’s so 1987. We waited three years for this?
Perhaps the most disappointing $30 an American music fan can spend this year is on the Gaze import. After listening to Gaze, I had to listen to old Beautiful South albums just to recall what the band was about. The new album is a surprise disappointment, given the baroque lyrics and experimentation Heaton was trying with his solo album, Biscuit Boy. The Beautiful South has jumped the shark. And we we are all the lesser for it.