Happiness Not Included
published: 21 /
Excellent fifth album from groundbreaking 80's synth duo Soft Cell
Soft Cell did much to shape British electronic music in the 1980s with hits like 'Tainted Love' and 'Bedsitter'. But singer Marc Almond and multi-instrumentalist Dave Ball were never especially prolific - and this makes the release now of their fifth album '*Happiness Not Included' all the more welcome.
The new record revisits all the ingredients that made Soft Cell so influential in their heyday. Almond's voice is warm and very relatable and his lyrics are dotted with humour. Plus Ball's synthesiser is ever lively but never overbearing - always well-judged.
There are many highlights on 'Happiness Not Included'.
'Happy Happy' and 'New Eden' focus on how yesterday's sci-fi visions failed to come to fruition. The duo write engagingly about soldiering on, even when things don't turn out as expected.
The beautifully sung 'Light Sleepers' is an affectionate portrait of Californian night owls - reminiscent of an Edward Hopper painting. 'Polaroid' is a droll track documenting an underwhelming encounter with Andy Warhol in 1980s New York.
And there's some deliberately kitsch dance music, too in 'Nostalgia Machine' which name-checks David Essex's motorbike film 'Silver Dream Racer' as well as Hawkwind's 'Silver Machine'.
But perhaps the strongest track on the album is 'Purple Zone' which features a soaring duet between Marc Almond and Neil Tennant - uniting one of the UK's best-selling synth duos – Tennant's Pet Shop Boys – with Soft Cell, who were one of the most influential.
Happy happy happy
Bruises on all my illusions
Heart like Chernobyl
Happiness not included
I'm not a friend of God
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