Melody Maker, 9.7.88
TENDER PERVERT Creation
SURE, it's the perfect title: tenderness and perversion have long been two of the most fascinating characteristics of Momus and both
are here in abundance. As, indeed are shame, charm and humour,
suffering, insufficiency, sensitivity and blasphemy. Not that he'd necessarily see it all that way. But wait.
Under the title of "Bishonen" -taken from Ian Buruma's "A Japanese Mirror" -there's an exploration of the theory that we are all raised according to someone else's fantasy. In this case it's the stepfather, an ugly fugitive, an old misogynist, a surreptitious gay, but the pale, graceful beauty has a preference for women and has to suffer the guilt of an unfulfilled destiny.
That's just the first side. On the flip there is "A Complete History of
Sexual Jealousy, Parts 17-24", which utilises Momus' degrees in Theoretical And Applied Erotics to the best advantage, investigating promiscuity, fidelity and insecurity with barbed words. This track also reveals his taste for the absurd and, before it spreads into a quasi electro-psychedelic whirl, a probing, smelly tongue is poked out at New Order. The Style Council are given a similar treatment with 'Ice King'. Elsewhere there are the whistles and shrieks of circus clowns, harps and red herrings, a hand sliding along the neck of a guitar. But throughout, the voice, weak in precision as it is, stands bold, the warrior poetry rarely complicated with harmony.
THE TENDER TRAP
"God is a tender pervert and the angels are voyeurs". Do I sniff the stained sheets of a concept album? Momus, you'll recall, got the red card from Mount Olympus for criticising Zeus' design for Man; he reckoned a little window in the human chest would enable the gods
to see what man was really thinking.
Nicholas Currie - aka Momus back from a harsh several millennium match suspension- proved with 'The Poison Boyfriend' and the chilling 'Murderers The Hope Of Women' that he's one of the most provocative, intelligent songwriters around; someone who'll tackle sexuality, (im)morality, and the sins of the world with almost embarrassing sincerity.
'Tender Pervert' is a strange, provocative affair; a cluster of creations so personal, so self-deprecating, so confessional that one's ears burn fiercely in recognition. There's 'The Homosexual', a sad clever tale - 'I love women/But what's the point of arguing/ With the men from boarding schools and building sites/ Who've told me I'm a homosexual all my life' penned for heteros appalled by
the bum-crack-beer-gut brigade yet who've fled from
the New-Men-In-Hair-Shirts-At-Tea-Parties scenario.
Still with the subject of sex, 'Love On Ice' reflects on a tabloid attack about Torvill and Dean's 'abnormal' lives and 'The Complete History Of Sexuality Parts 17-24' is possessive power pop (a Factory remix or Hazel Dean cover beckons!).
The music - which baroques and slinks and rhumbas along from Bach to the Pet Shop Boys to Come Dancing- places his love drug observations, snide asides and lustful investigations firmly in the '90s with 'I Was A Maoist Intellectual' ('in the music industry'), a standout track in terms of bile and comedy: 'But my downfall came from being three things the working classes hated/Agitated,
organised And over-educated'.
Of course, now that intelligent, cutting lyrics are of limited importance compared to breaks, big breasts and little girls and boys with high voices, Currie's contribution will doubtless be neg1ected by the camp commandants of popular music. But bugger that, I'd give this10 if the digits hadn't been defecated on by last week's awards to Public Enemy and Jimmy Page, so I'll settle for a very honourable (9).
Sounds, July 8th 1988
Momus 'Tender Pervert' (Creation CRELP 036) ****1/2
VOLUME THREE from the Kama Sutra of life according to the Tender Pervert, Mr Autobiographical himself, Nicholas Currie, aka Momus.
As a lyricist, Currie stands naked and brazen with no handy riffs or middle eights to hide behind. He is one of the few songwriters on earth who could get away with using a line like "Your eyes grow heavy as I read/The Immoralist by Andre Gide" ('In The Sanatorium').
Anything is permissible for the author of the lyric 'When I left home I already had five years of self-abuse under my belt', from one of the album's most perfect manifestations 'The Charm Of Innocence'.
While sex and morality rear their ugly/pretty heads with a pogo frequency, the one Grand Obsession of Momus is the concept of 'normality', as defined and championed by The Sun.
'Love On Ice' uses Torville & Dean as a metaphor for the public canonisation and crucifixion of popular icons. 'The Homosexual' beats a well-banged drum with the stick of humour- delicious, wicked humour. 'Ice King', 'The Charm Of Innocence' and 'A Complete History Of Sexual Jealousy (Parts 17-24)' address, in their various ways, the fear and loathing of the beast we call love.
Currie nimbly walks a cat's cradle of tightropes, needing no safety net as insurance against the bottomless pits of homespun philosophy and shallow wit. He pokes fun at himself while jabbing sharply at the flabby white underbelly of degenerate Western civilisation.
A total absence of self-pity, combined with a cynical awareness of 'the establishment' enables him to encapsulate our game in the one song, 'I Was A Maoist Intellectual' ("in The Music Industry"): this very funny "miner at the coalface of meaning" knows why he isn't rich and famous and seems contentedly resigned to the fact, holding out for the judgement of posterity.
Personal experience is never very far from the surface, its input merely varying in intensity- I bet he describes his profession on his tax returns as soul-barer.
This pervert may be tender but he is not weak. A record of uncomfortable strength and purity.