Soft Cell can be regarded as an early 80’s electro hit machine and to the more lame it can even be down to a knowledge of ‘Tainted Love’. However, if the aforementioned is your take on the Almond-Ball allegiance then you have missed out on so much and that would be on both the grounds of lyrics and music.
The words come from a ‘Soul Inside’ describing emotions that can stem from ‘The Art of falling Apart’ and other such life obstacles that in essence come from lying in the gutter and staring at the stars or in far too many cases looking down the drain. On the front of the tunes we wind a path of minimalism through to the more adventurous led by tasteful technology. Commercial charisma may be a domain of the dynamic duo but it is not achieved through love and light, sun and saccharine, levity and lustre and in essence it may be the case that happiness is not included…..
The Soft Cell volley can be the call of the distressed, depraved, lost, lonely, tearful, torn, bruised and battered but credit where it is due because nobody traverses the tales of these traumas better than Marc and his dark diatribes. However, two decades after the last album and 45 years from the starting point is there a purpose and produce that carries kudos?
The messages may skirt the negative nuances of our existences but the quality of their delivery is most definitely positive. My Soft Cell was always more ‘The Art of falling Apart’ and ‘Last Night in Sodom’ as the whole package punched with a heavyweight hit and even though chart glory followed one had the feeling that there was far more to the merchandise. These guys were looking out from the mainstream to their rightful role as outsiders or more probably it was a case of cracking the ordinary from the peripheries.
However, a distinct ability is always present in order to be vital and vicious – and the new album – ‘Happiness not Included’ marries pure pop with a post punk ethic. Marc and Dave despite their own personal differences have come up trumps from the dumps. It is obvious that 70’s Suicide were a driving force for Soft Cell but that influence is as good as it gets! In turn the 80’s had the Pet Shop Boys hot on the tails of the ‘Non Stop Exotic Cabaret’ kids as the next major newcomer in male doubles land.
In 2022 we have Soft Cell and Pet Shop Boys uniting on the new release but in essence that is down the pecking order for the other gems on this relevant record showcase a whole host of Midas with the likes of ‘Happy Happy Happy’, ‘Polaroid’, ‘Bruises on all my Illusions’, ‘Heart like Chernobyl’ and ‘I’m not a friend of God’ ticking the box for storytelling skills and aural achievement.
Tantalising touches of every decade from the 60’s are present but major footprints within the field of the human condition earmark this collection as a standout set. There are many great artists out there but few can dig this deep in the quest to make sense of it all – and, even if you cannot figure out either the meaning of relationships and our spin on this mortal coil there is no better place to reside than with the experts of these imponderables. Soft Cell look back and inwards to look forward and nostalgia and the now become the new. Just listen to the vocabulary describing the imperfect and isolated as cynicism and satire rest in the court of the ‘Vermin in Ermine’.
‘Happiness not Included’ but there are a dozen dexterous diamonds on board this must have listen…