Delicatessen - Hustle Into Bed

"PERVERT'S SMILE split wide open/They have arms to feel..."

Here he comes again, then, slithering through the slime of humanity's psycho side and grasping for our ankles. Still slipping razor blades in the fairground lucky dip and sounding like an English Billy Corgan possessed by the spirit of a heavily stoned Charles Manson. Greetings, Neil Carlill - it's, um, uncomfortable to have you back.

Second album around, however, it's time to unlock the windows and invite him into your home - albeit tentatively. For, in the year since 'Skin Touching Water' set out to terrify grannies the moody art pop world over, he's learnt how to conceal his slasher tendencies and pretend to be as normal as, well, Luke Haines at least. It's a subtle disguise. Pianos are thumped in an eerie but approachable manner, and the whole record is enveloped with warped-yet-familiar, Tinderstick-y string crackling. Neil's secret stock of 'killer' tunes remains bottomless, but on 'Ezra' and the title track they sidle up to you sideways rather than creeping up from behind. Maybe we're not talking about an album full of 'Kandy Pop's, but Neil does at least try to fit in.

Ah, but you can't keep a good art-loon down. Gradually the paper mask starts to slip and - once the lush delicacy of 'Full Tilt In Paris' has left its mark - Neil starts yelping, "Just been shopping!" on 'I'd Love To Shut Up' as if he's rabidly disturbed by the price of meat cleavers these days. From here on in, Neil Carlill: Art Nutter leaps to the fore, intent on having a damn good mope.

But bring Mr Carlill his street clothes, nurse. For, no matter how deep you'd like to see all art-rockers buried under their own symbiotic stage sculptures, 'Hustle Into Bed' is a vibrant, multi-faceted treasure with its spikes wrapped in velvet.

Listen and creep...


Mark Beaumont