Most helpful positive review
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Perfect pop... a Pet Sounds for the 80’s.
on 21 December 2003
This is one of the finest albums I’ve ever had on my CD player. Welcome to the Beautiful South is 50 minutes of pure pop perfection, as Heaton, Corrigan and Co. croon along to infectious jazz beats with literary pop hooks, tales of marital abuse, alcoholisms and the moribund exasperation of modern-day relationships. If this were Radiohead or Lou Reed, the band would have had us reaching for the razor blades by the end of track three. Instead, song-writing duo Heaton and Rotheray take a leaf out of Morrissey’s song book and inject their morbid musing with a satirical wit and comedic depth.
The result is how you would imagine Noel Coward sounding if he’d lived through the eighties recession. Bitter, bile-spewing though utterly charming; lifting the spirits for those unwilling to pay attention, whilst giving the rest of us a lesson in how to create substantial pop. The biggest hits are the best of the bunch, with Song for Whoever and You Keep it all In representing not only two of the finest tracks of 80’s pop music, but two of the finest works of pop music ever. They may be deceptively downbeat and cynical to the full, but still somehow, as romantic and beautiful as music can get. However, it is not just the jazzy piano ballads that impress, oh no, there’s also some wonderful guitar work on display... most notably on the rocking Girlfriend and the somewhat trivial, though always entertaining, Straight in at 37.
The closing numbers are as different as you could possibly get to the majority of pop music being created at the time. Love is... begins in a way not too dissimilar to the rest of the album with it’s melancholic tales of middle-class love; before transforming into a wild and raucous sing a long corker, with more than a passing nod to The Beatles. Whilst the closing number, the wonderfully titled I Love You (But You’re Boring) is truly, unlike anything else on the album. Here a solo acoustic guitar leads us through sound effects, vocal passages, hidden voices and a whole lot of distortion as Heaton screams about a love that was too busy listening to Carousel, to bake a phallic cake.
This really is one of the best albums ever... and a debut to boot. The music is catchy, memorable and always intelligent, whilst the musicianship of the band is absolutely faultless. Though the future line up would change, and the band as a whole would go on to explore further lyrical dimensions and more experimental sonic textures, this is still the greatest example of band’s undiluted creativity. A must own for every household.