Strangelove - Love and Other Demons

EVEN THE most dedicated rock moaners would've given up by now. You spend three years cooped in your bat-festooned attic invoking your deepest, dirtiest inner demons. Eventually, in a fit of blind optimism, you release your debut album, 'Time For The Rest Of Your Life', and watch as the world sniffs at its 66 minutes of unrelenting bleakness, notes the strong whiff of essence de big hair and decides it's time for another pint instead. So, you have to admire Patrick Duff's dedication to all things grandiose. Cleaned-up, clipped and possessed of a remarkable jauntiness in places, his second album may be awash with tales of a life out of control and a career spent rocketing the wrong way down the rock superhighway, but it's sufficiently polished, focused and restrained to be his salvation. Time was you could knit yourself a dozen black cardies during an epic, string-mangling closing track like 'Sea Of Black'. Here it's reached a heart-stopping climax before you've finished a sleeve.

Touring buddies Brett Anderson and Richard Oakes are roped in on backing vocals to bring their brooding Catweasel class to the swoontastic 'She's Everywhere' and the desolate Ian-Astbury-in-an-industrial-Electrolux squall of 'Living With The Human Machines', but for the rest, Patrick colours in his inner agony with surprisingly vibrant colours.

Hence 'Beautiful Alone' is a breezy strumalong of Marr-ist proportions; 'Sway' is a delicate piano epic that Marion would give their last chin hair for and the unplugged '1432' emulates Spandau Ballet's more morose moments. For 60 seconds. Which is... quite awesome, as it happens.

Of course, it's easy to dismiss 'Love And Other Demons' as just another load of maudlin toss, but, as a refreshing counterfoil to the current dizzgo pop Bis-ness, it's reason enough to occasionally stop the gladness.


Mark Beaumont