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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like Soft Cell? You'll LOVE this!
I first got into Soft Cell's music last summer when I came across some demo's on Amazon - I'm a GREAT fan now, but I felt a little anxious when I saw 'Creulty Without Beauty.' Of course, I was over-joyed that they're back, so that younger fans like me (I'm 17) could experience the joy of buying new records by our favourite pop-group, but... well, it's been 17 years or so...
Published on 29 Mar 2005 by softcellchic

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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great
Soft Cell have been really important to me so I was keen for this CD to be true to a great legacy. But too much of this is so ordinary. Monoculture, Darker Times, On an Up, Sensation Nation are good, sure, but some of the other tracks are anodyne and unremarkable. Soft Cell were always to me about strong songs, but some of these album tracks are simply that, album...
Published on 12 Oct 2002 by Lucian Taylor


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like Soft Cell? You'll LOVE this!, 29 Mar 2005
This review is from: Cruelty Without Beauty (Audio CD)
I first got into Soft Cell's music last summer when I came across some demo's on Amazon - I'm a GREAT fan now, but I felt a little anxious when I saw 'Creulty Without Beauty.' Of course, I was over-joyed that they're back, so that younger fans like me (I'm 17) could experience the joy of buying new records by our favourite pop-group, but... well, it's been 17 years or so since their last album, and you can't help but think :
1) Have they still got their unique cutting edge sound, or are they just going to, God Forbid, 'me too' along like a pair of sad old has-beens?
2) Has Marc still got that gorgeous voice of his, and all that passion that just lifted his songs up above everyone elses?
3) Are they still saying something new and exciting, are those lyrics snappy and witty like they always were?
After reading a few of the reviews here, I wasn't feeling too amazingly heartened, but because of various encouragements from other fans, I decided to give it a go.
And am I SO GLAD that I did - each track is zingy, exciting, and refreshingly new... Dave is still Prince of the Syntesiser and Marc is still that flamoboyant darling with the heart-rendering voice that we all fell in love with. As has been said before, only Soft Cell could have produced those dark, sleazy numbers such as 'Caligula Syndome,' 'Le Grande Guignol' and 'Desperate.' In my oppinion, those tracks, along with 'Together Alone' can comfortably amoungst the best of Soft Cell's hits. And, if you enjoyed 'Memorabillia', I swear you're bound to love 'Monoculture'. 'Darker Times' is a lyrical masterpeice - 'its a souless situation, its a spiritual vacation...' There's something here for every Soft Cell fan, I promise you. Give them a chance to prove themselvse to you again. The only thing that upsets me is that I paused to doubt them!
I really hope that this review helps to sway some of the undecided 'is it *really* the Soft Cell I know and love?' people just as smiliar reviews here helped to sway me. Wave goodbye? I don't think so! Say a big Hello to Soft Cell xox
(ps - for anyone new to Soft Cell, I recomend either get started on this album,'The Very Best of Soft Cell,' or the imfamously delicious 'Non Stop Erotic Caberet' - the album I started on. PREPARED TO BE HOOKED!)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome Return of Old Friends, 2 Jan 2008
By 
Terry Connell "Music Lover" (London UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Cruelty Without Beauty (Audio CD)
I first got this album on it's release in 2002 and I was hooked from the outset. Soft Cell managed to update their sound while still keeping the elements that made them stand out in the 80s - the dark base syths, the tinkling bell sounds and Marc's voice richer, stronger and better with the passing years. The album will thrill you and my immediate impression was welcome back dear, old friends, thank you for the music.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still Relevant, 30 Oct 2002
By 
K. Tune "mustard57" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Cruelty Without Beauty (Audio CD)
I can't guess at the decisions Marc and Dave must have made while recording this album - though I'd guess they might have asked themselves what sort of an album Soft Cell should be making, nearly 20 years after their last.

Regardless of whether they thought about it or not, I think they've come up with the right answer. You can't expect another album chock full of pop diamonds like Bedsitter and Torch. You can't expect tracks containing the young men's anger shown in tracks like Where the Heart is. You can't expect Marc to still be singing as if his life depended on it. Soft Cell being the sort of people they are one thing you can't ever expect is more of the same.

So what you've got I think manages to hit the right spot. You have a number of track with concerns more general than personal ( Desperate, Whatever It Takes, Monoculture, Sensation Nation ), but you also have the sort of tracks only Soft Cell might write ( Grand Guignol and my personal favourite Caligula Syndrome ).

Marc's sly wit is on display throughout, and those who rate him as a lyricist will not be disappointed. The arrangements are really quite subtle and listening you realize just how good Soft Cell are - there's more invention in a song like Caligula Syndrome than in a month of Top 40 rundowns.

So go ahead - if you're holding back because you think they might have turned into sad old has beens then you're wrong ( and you clearly haven't been buying the solo albums ). It'll take a few listens so persevere with it.

Perhaps more than before Soft Cell have thought about the people listening, and 'On an Up' feels like Marc's really wanting to rally all the faithful out there.

I really hope this isn't the last we'll hear from them. If they stick at it who knows what might happen.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Play it again, 14 Dec 2002
This review is from: Cruelty Without Beauty (Audio CD)
I know how some of these reviewers feel; On first listen this CD is rather eclectic. However, keep listening, this album really grows as it takes the listener on a journey of emotions and memories. Don't expect the Soft Cell of the 1980's - we've all aged since then. However, this group always inspired me to actively listen (unlike some current stuff I could mention) and wow, is it worth it.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the 18 year wait., 3 Oct 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Cruelty Without Beauty (Audio CD)
I can't beleive that it's almost 20 years since the release of 'This Last Night In Sodom'. We've had remixes, repackaging and re-recordings in the meantime of course. We've had Marc and Dave's solo careers to keep us happy but this release is an event that I honestly thought i would never see.
I rushed out to buy the CD on the release date I had previously heard the samples of 'The Night' and 'Le Grand Guignol' on the Cooking Vinyl website; I already had the monoculture single (in both formats) but i was still desperate to hear this Album.
I slotted it into my player and sat down with a coffee and a cigarette...............
I must admit that on firt play i wasn't hooked; the live shows suggested that the new material was going to be very Soft Cellish and this seemed too smooth and polished and dare i say it bland! I should have realised at that time that i'm not a very good first listener (I'd never make an A&R man). Several plays later and I'm hooked. welcome back Soft Cell!
This is an astounding LP. A brilliant mix of dirt and desire sung with passion over music that has echos from their roots whilst sounding fresh and contemporary. My favourites are 'On an Up' a triumphant finisher with a touch of melancholy, 'All out of Love' - self explanatory and 'Last Chance', a prelude to Say Hello Wave Goodbye.
I recommend this CD to old and new fans - you won't be disappointed I promise. I'm only upset that because of radio playlists in the UK and the fact that most producers won't consider Soft Cell trendy enough to play that this LP along with the single 'Monoculture' will probably flop.
Do buy it and give Soft Cell a reason to continue to entertain us and inspire us for years to come.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My dream came true !!!!, 20 Oct 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Cruelty Without Beauty (Audio CD)
I was a big Soft Cell fan in the 80's . I saw them live in Leuven,Belgium, back in 1983 (I guees...) : I fall beneath their spell at that time and since then, I listen regularly to their "old" albums. So when I saw that they were releasing a new CD, I was so happy ! And it was worth the waiting, believe me. As usual with Soft Cell music, you need some time to get "into it" but after that , the magic is back and you cannot help putting the CD back in your player, again and again.... ! Thank you Marc, thank you Dave for the pleasure you are bringing us .
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of rare beauty, 15 Oct 2002
This review is from: Cruelty Without Beauty (Audio CD)
Nearly twenty years after they signed off with This Last Night In...Sodom, Ball and Almond are back and how! I saw them last
year at Brixton Academy and they were great. I'm about to see
them at the same place again and I fully expect that gig to be
more of a showcase for the new album.
The Cell's debut album, Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret (apparently the
first album ever to be mixed while those involved were on
Ecstacy!), takes a lot of beating as it set such a high
watermark for them but they have equalled it.
Tracks like the opener Darker Times with its thoughts on how
things have changed during their years away, the single Monoculture and The Night are early highlights. Follow this
with the exquisite Last Chance - introduced by Marc Almond
last year as "a sequel to Say Hello..." and the jealousy and
possession of Together Alone and you've an album which is both
a statement of the modern world and how we live and an antidote
to the bland establishment pop of Popstars/Fame Academy etc.
Ball's brilliant work as one half of The Grid (much underated)
has enabled him to keep the music fresh and yet they achieve
a sense of depth and scale which is totally absent in current
dance music. Almond's knowing and intuitive lyrics are the
perfect complement. You can see why they were so good in 81
and 82 and they have not lost their touch.
Welcome back!
Al Ferrier
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great, 12 Oct 2002
This review is from: Cruelty Without Beauty (Audio CD)
Soft Cell have been really important to me so I was keen for this CD to be true to a great legacy. But too much of this is so ordinary. Monoculture, Darker Times, On an Up, Sensation Nation are good, sure, but some of the other tracks are anodyne and unremarkable. Soft Cell were always to me about strong songs, but some of these album tracks are simply that, album tracks.
Having said all that, the non-LP track Dancing Alone is brilliant; why isnt the rest as good?
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The electro pioneers return., 11 Oct 2002
This review is from: Cruelty Without Beauty (Audio CD)
"Cruelty without Beauty" demonstrates a very polished Soft Cell sound, but still retains those glorious hooks which made them so great the first time around. Lyrically, the sleaze has been replaced by middle-age dilemnas and woes, but Almond is on mostly top form throughout. Highlights include "Together Alone", "On An Up" and the corking flagship single "Monoculture". This has so far been largely ignored by the public, which is a shame, as it's great.
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An opportunity missed, 26 Nov 2002
By 
Jezar (Penrith, Cumbria United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Cruelty Without Beauty (Audio CD)
This is a dance album. Think: Kylie Minogues "Fever", but darker and sung by Marc Almond. And not as good. Very different from the original Soft Cell. Could you get away with Soft Cell's original simplicity 20 years later? Well, yes - you could - if the songs were strong enough to carry it - it would be refreshing too - and so this is an opportunity missed.
What we have here instead is very much "me too" dance music. Dave Ball's excellent music production skills are shown off here to great effect - he should definately be producing some of todays' new dance acts, if he is not already doing so - it's just that the music here offers nothing new - and Soft Cell made their name by being different - by being innovators.
But more disappointing than that is Marc Almonds vocals. Much of his raw energy has gone, which isn't surprising as the lyrics here don't really offer anything much to sing about. It's not just that the subject matter isn't there - it is also that the lyrical construction of the songs seems clumsy and awkward by todays' standards, and there's no evidence of the melodic skill once showcased on the brilliant "Torch".
It's been twenty years since I used to sit up late listening to Soft Cell records. They formed the backdrop to my troubled teens. In the intervening time, I've come a long way. I hoped Soft Cell had too. Since they had stated that they wanted to make a "new" album and not a retro album, I was hoping to hear some intelligent grown-up re-appraisal of the moral issues raised in "Non Stop Exotic Cabaret" in the context of todays society. What a treat that would be! Instead, we just get bog standard Dance Music that - quite frankly - could have been produced by any of todays anonymous Dance Producers.
An opportunity missed - a shame.
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