This 1992 album was The Beautiful South's third and it is my favourite of theirs, combining some brilliantly infectious pop melodies with Paul Heaton's characteristically witty, angry and insightful lyrics. OK, sound-wise the band (for me) never had quite the level of invigoration (or rawness) that Heaton's previous band, The Housemartins, had during their all too brief life, but the highly polished sound of 0898 is still compelling listening. Of course, Heaton has always had a very acute pop music sensibility - which somehow, I'm really not sure why, sits rather oddly with his obviously deeply held political beliefs - and on 0898 he (together with album producer Jon Kelly) has created a sound reminiscent of a number of '1980s bands' (at their very best), such as ABC (listen to the keyboards on I'm Your No. 1 Fan, for example) and Squeeze (for example, the vocal and mood of Something That You Said).
0898 contains a series of sublime songs, featuring alternately Heaton and Dave Hemingway on lead vocal, with Briana Corrigan singing lead on a couple of songs (The Rocking Chair and Bell-bottomed Tear). Album opener Old Red Eyes Is Back is another Heaton account of the perils of alcoholism, an addiction of course from which he himself suffered. This is probably is his most powerful account of the subject, containing some caustic lyrics ('You never listened to a word the doctor said, he told you if you drank another you'd be dead'). Heaton then addresses a series of his (mostly well established) bugbears, with some brilliant lyrics (and melodies) on We'll Deal With It Later (royalty; 'Don't worry if it's Queen or Duke try scything down the pair'), 36D (women's sexualisation; 'I hear you've turned our young men into dribbling clowns'), I'm Your No. 1 Fan (modern day fandom; 'I'm the richly blessed daughter of a mother with tattooed arms, that's the way my family life was charmed') and When I'm 84 (a brilliantly witty take on old age; 'No dribbling or incontinence, no longing for the old sixpence'). Similarly, there is much exuberance and appeal in each of We Are Each Other, Domino Man, Here It Is Again (actually one of the best - and rather atypical - songs on the album) and Something That You Said (which features Corrigan's best vocal on the album).
There is virtually not a duff track here, making this an essential purchase for anyone who likes great pop music.
There are loads of reviews already describing in detail the greatness of the tracks on this album. All I'd like to add is that there is not one poor or even average track on here. They are all great, great tunes for which I know every word even though I haven't played it for probably 10 years (I'm on here now trying to buy a copy as I can't find mine!)
It's hard to pick a favourite track because they are all bordering on the perfect but at a push I'd probably say it is 'Something That You Said' for the Briana vocals, clever lyrics and soaring strings. The production on it too is a benchmark for how it should be done. Every detail in the complex arrangements are beautifully transparent.
Suppose this is not everybody`s cup of tea. Good combination of rock,folk,pop,country,orchestrations and intelligent + interesting lyrics to compliment the sound..... Actually, you can`t go wrong with any of the band`s albums....A combination of "in your face" lyrics with a sarcastic/ humorous twist to show you how silly we as human beings really are on this planet.
Infectious sonic horizons, lyrical intelligence, expert musicianship... this is The Beautiful South in all their creative glory; swamping their songs in traditional pop structures, mellow arrangements, and as ever, bitingly cynical lyrics. The mood switches from joyous to heartbreaking at a regular pace, as Heaton casts his ever creative eye over everything from drunken old has-beens, to dirty old sluts, touchy-feely couples, royalist defeat and of course... relationship difficulties. It sounds miserable but it isn’t. Rotheray’s detailed compositions complement Heaton’s lyrics perfectly, creating a bold and always interesting fusion of lounge jazz and Beatle-pop; whilst Jon Kelly’s multi-layered production elevates the album to the realms of prog-rock perfection. This is most notable on the later half of the album where amazing sonic-arrangements add an atmospheric depth to such songs as Here it is Again, Something that you Said, and the closing number, When I’m 84. Elsewhere, we find the striking voice of Briana Corrigan who adds an element of dramatic beauty to songs like Rocking Chair, Bell-bottomed Tear, and I’m Your No. 1 Fan, which all certainly benefit from the feminine touch... this was sadly her last album with the band, cemented by Heaton’s somewhat misogynistic composition Mini-Correct on the follow up album Miaow, from which she was sourly missed. Following on in the tradition of I Love You (But You’re Boring) and Should Have Kept My Eyes Shut from the first two albums, 0898 features one of the best titled pop songs ever. The wonderfully colloquial You Play Glockenspiel, I’ll play Drums not only has the most intricate rhyming scheme of any of the tracks on the album, but also has the most detailed subject matter. Personally, it’s my favourite track on the record, managing to be simultaneously toe tapping-good AND heart-wrenchingly sad. Needless to say, this is certainly one of the most underrated records of early nineties pop. The music is tight, literate and intelligent and, as mentioned previously, the musicianship of the band as a whole is faultless. It may lack the obvious hits of the first two South albums but that is by no means a criticism. You may just need to take a few more listens to really relax into the mood of the record. At this current price... that’s asking very little indeed.