Review in Melody Maker, July 7th 1987
ARSENIC AND OLD LACE
THE POISON BOYFRIEND
CLEVER bastard, this acoustic poet. You could write books about him, except that he's done it already. "The Poison Boyfriend" is an orgy of words, stretching every which way, their ugliness and beauty all grist to the mill for this staggeringly diverse frame of reference. Never has melancholy sounded quite so articulate.
Momus is a genuine outsider, tilting at the world in a bid to leave a bruise. His tools are a drawn, small voice, high words and a backing of strings and keys whose very textures seem to evoke resignation, slim downward grins at it all. It's the obvious - pained, distressed, pensive, touched - yet quietly addicted to the world, laying naked as skin the process of wanting more from life, hungering for the unspecified, the untenable, some colour of glorious unity. Momus' small vignettes and scenes of life, a polite frenzy of discourse and symbol, beg for sense.
Something here is superficial, held back. Despite the depths to which this poet will propel himself, he often stubs short with a reductive one-liner. He finds a fascination in the eccentric, careering process of words, the machine-gun fire of images from a pale linguistic terrorist, yet a missed word can lose the stark rush of ideas. Momus is often flippant, reducing his seriousness with a mocking aside; "A rainy night in Soho/So many cliches have sentimental truth, don't you find?" he murmurs slowly.
Yet "The Poison Boyfriend" is flushed with a sense of what could be, of what we deny to ourselves. A rigorous honesty, puritan's self-assessment lies among the literary and literate references, his garrulous high conversation. He's in love with the world, even when hating it, gives voice to all because all should be told. He tells us he's living with a beautiful woman, and jealous all the time, winds his voice over these strings which capture as dearly as any his tired, informed hope. "What's commonsense?/ A million unthinking hearts. . ."
"Violets" has a gay fatalism, yet the verbosity can become unwieldly, as he scoffs "The First War, the war of 14-18/ Begins with an uprising of adrenalin. . . The First War begins with the testicles descending/And desire assassinating the child you once were. " The clumsiness is meant, articulate, part of the Momus scheme of things, Sixth-form awkward. But he knows all about this, damning his own purple-tipped prose. He's got all angles covered, serious and flippant, exactly as he wants to be.
A dry, small voice which dares little and chances a lot, and a contempt bordering on love. Extraordinary.
Review in New Musical Express
July 11th 1987
HANG OUT THE Y-FRONTS!
The Poison Boyfriend (Creation)
WHEREVER YOU are, whatever you are, Momus is watching and listening. He's a highbrow sort of chap - his literary allusions make Lloyd Cole's reading list sound like the Tufty Club - and he sings with mortuary slab matter-of-factness. He observes and exposes emotions without concern for decency or secrecy, as if the anxieties we share but don't like to talk about should be run up the flag-pole like soiled Y-fronts.
There's his sketch of a party Steppenwolf, 'The Gatecrasher', "acidic and sour" , freeloading and frightening, but what's he really thinking? Part rubbish, part trivia - "And he wonders why Hitler liked lemon verbena / And whether he loved Eva Braun" part nostalgia, suggests Momus, with a strangely convincing insight into the situation. 'Situation Comedy Blues' deals with the sad clown stereotype, the unloved sitcom scriptwriter, " the man who serves the laughter To the drunkards of disaster / After they've got plastered on the news".
If 'Poison Boyfriend' sounds a tad dour I assure you it's nothing of the sort; his poetic psychiatry is augmented by bright tunes such as the Parisian café accordion on 'Violets' and bitter humour in 'Sex For The Disabled'. The only exceptions are the low-key 'Three Wars' and 'Closer To You'.
But that's a petty criticism of this mature work, one step beyond 'Circus Maximus'. Momus writes witty, political, melancholy songs about people's frustrated desires, strained relationships, social awkwardness and blunted ambitions. He writes songs about people like me. And you?
Sounds, July 4th 1987
Review of 'The Poison Boyfriend'
MOMUS 'The Poison Boyfriend' (Creation CRE LP 021 )**** 1/2
SSSSH! LISTEN. At last Creation have released an album that, in its quiet, perversely mannered and educated approach, is every bit the sparkling equal of the squall 'n' thrall of the Mary Chain's 'Psychocandy'. Stand up Nick Currie, take a bow, and get ready for your obligatory Warholian 15 minutes.
Nick is Momus and Momus is the person who brings back acute (as opposed to merely cute) insight, humour, sadness and sudden fumbling sex into the art of singer-songwriting.
Almost as a reaction to the increase in noise in modern music, the past few years have seen all manner of singer-songwriters crawling like maggots out of the woodwork of indulgence to which they were consigned a decade ago. From Suzanne Vega to Andy White, each has been lauded for wit, wisdom and intellect while the mostly unsung Nick Currie has bided his time, slinking through the shadows of London with his mind for material that is capable of killing rather than merely thrilling.
'The Poison Boyfriend', laced with emotional cyanide, is the culmination of this process.
If his excellent De Sade inspired debut EP, 'The Beast With Three Backs', bespoke the poetry in the anguish of sado-masochism and his first LP, 'Circus Maximus', failed through being weighed down by a surfeit of ideas and historical references, 'The Poison Boyfriend' fulfils the art Nick has always promised to produce.
Momus has an uncanny ability to make the characters and situations he sings about so liltingly instantly recognisable. We all immediately know the social outcast wallflower at a party who features in 'The
Gatecrasher', remember the hot flushes and blushes of puberty in the 'Three Wars', and regret the male-squabbling over females in
As for 'Sex For The Disabled', a political song, its comedy of ill-manners is filled with belly laughs but its target is the poison in our native land: conservatism.
This Currie is hot. Order one now.